Thursday, March 24, 2011

Update on the paper

Remember when I wrote last week that my office is running out of paper and has no money to buy more? It’s getting worse- today at the weekly meeting, there was serious distress over occasional six dollar fees for transactions on one of the computer systems; we simply cannot afford these anymore. The paper is dwindling and the supply fund is not, shall we say, robust. There is enough in there to buy a few boxes of printer paper, so I’m not sure why they are waiting. Perhaps there is something more important than the paper? I can’t imagine what it would be, because we have plenty of TP and coffee. I checked when I was doing the inventory for my swapping scheme. Don’t worry, though- I have another idea for how to get some, since the trading post idea doesn’t seem to be taking off.

Last week, I was noticing my hands were getting all carpal-tunnelly, and I knew why. My office chair was too low and I couldn’t get it go up. One of my cubors (these are like neighbors, only in cubes) heard me swearing and came over. He flipped my chair over and had it fixed in a jiffy, which gave me another fantastic idea for paper procurement. I figure we can put him out on the sidewalk with a sign that says ‘Will fix office furniture for paper’, and then I thought, WHY STOP THERE? Many people have skills that could be utilized to conquer this crisis. Another of my cubors, for example, dances in his free time. He could get out there in front of the office and dance with an empty paper box, so people can come by and toss paper in there. When it’s filled up, he can come in. I think this is a surefire winner, so I’m going to get a sign-up sheet and go around figuring out what extracurricular skills everyone else has. I will probably have to sit this one out myself: my only talent is coming up with brilliant ideas, and my friend Helen has already cornered the market on that. Although, ‘Will provide brilliant ideas for copy paper’ would look good on a sign, wouldn’t it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I hate cigarette smoke as much as the next guy, maybe even more; GROSS! Here in Washington, you can’t smoke anywhere anymore. Not even in a bar or an adult video store. I bet you want to know how I know that, so I’ll tell you. Over the weekend, we went to an ice cream/beer/video game shop in a seedy suburb. It has a bad reputation, this town, but I drive through it pretty often because it is in between my sister’s house and one of the Goodwills I like. They vary, you know- the Goodwills. I have my favorites. Anyway, I have always defended the ratty place and when people criticize it, I call them snobs and tell them to go back to their McMansion and pick up a Starbucks on the way. I wasn’t concerned at all about going there to play Pac Man and eat ice cream. But the shop was down a street I don’t need to drive on to get to Goodwill, and I’d never seen it before. Just let me say WOW, and that it was the first time I wasn’t glad Weston could read. I had to explain what Payday loans and junk gold and diamonds were. Fortunately he didn’t ask what XXX means. Because I don’t know.

The strip is apparently popular- it was very crowded and we had to park quite a ways from the place, in back-in only angle parking. Who invented that? It’s the worst idea ever. I had to drive through a pot-holed parking lot and over a sidewalk to turn around and drive straight in head first. To get to the ice cream shop, we had to walk the gauntlet of drunks on the sidewalk in front of the dive bars having their smokes. Now, loud and cheerful hammered bikers don’t bother me, of course. Some of my best friends could make the Olympics in boat racing (the kind with beer, not actual boats, because that would be boring as hell). But Weston was terrified, never having encountered a drunken moron. Well, maybe one.

Once we got there, the shop was fun in a dingy sort of way and delicious ice cream and a good time was had by all. Unfortunately, we then had to retrace our steps, only this time it was more fun because Weston was clutching my legs while Shane ran on ahead as we picked our way through the throng of friendly pickled smokehounds spilling out of the various establishments. My favorite was the grinning toothless woman who informed us that she LOVED little boys; she had three of her own and adopted eight more. I told her how lucky she was and we continued on our merry trek. We barreled into the van as fast as we could, and it was then that I figured out that parking headfirst in back-in angled spot was not actually the greatest idea I had ever had. For the love of all that is holy, LET THE TOKERS SMOKE IN THE BARS! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I have a new plan. I'm sure it will work, just like all the others (you can refresh your memory here, here, and here for just a small sample of the methods I've tried). I've really been trying to get a little more organized lately. It would be SUPER AWESOME to be in control of just one teeny-tiny little thing; I think it might improve my disposition, which has not been stellar for some time now.

Unfortunately, in the past, I have had a high rate of failure. Even Weston easily recognizes this. I stacked the movies up neatly in the TV cabinet the other day and told him I have a new rule: movies have to be put back when they're done with them, and any movies left out will be thrown away. Here's what he said to that (complete with heavy sigh and rolled eyes): This will be just like all the other new rules; we'll do it for a while and then we'll stop and it will be back to just the way it was before. Well, rats! You can't say much to that, particularly when it's deadly accurate.

But! But! I have been eager to get a handle on the toys, since they comprise at least 8,000% of the messes in our house. I have been uncomfortably reminded of a woman I met at a consignment sale when Weston was little. I was loaded down with toys galore, including a little tool set. She took one look at it and said she would NEVER buy that for her kid because it had too many small pieces and would make a mess in her house. Naturally, I thought she was a cruel and horrid beast, but now I think she is the most brilliant creature to have ever walked the face of the earth. MMMMMmmmm, crow! My favorite!

Lloyd took the boys fishing yesterday, and while they were gone, I took every single toy, ball, gun, game, puzzle, stuffed animal, car, train and Lincoln Log out of the house and put them all in the detached garage, along with the approximately 11,000 pounds of miscellaneous household goods we have stored in there. My plan was to wait for them to come home and start squealing about their missing toys, then I was going to take them out to the garage to 'shop' for one laundry basket full of toys each. Then, when those got old, they could take them back to the garage and swap them for baskets of different ones. It didn't work exactly like that, though.

First of all, they admired the clean room but didn't realize for hours that the toys were gone. Once they noticed, they were a little concerned until I explained the plan. They were totally on board, and Weston didn't even ask to get his basket until the next day. He went out in the morning and came back with a basket mounded high with stuffed animals. They've been happily playing with the stuffed animals ever since, and Shane hasn't even asked to get his toys yet.

Pretty good, right? And I'm not done yet! Next, I'm going to set the garage on fire.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Remember when I promised ages ago to share my brilliant Las Vegas idea? I meant to do it right away, too, but then my cat got all run over and I was discombobulated. But now I have installed a tube that goes from my backyard distillery to an outlet valve in every room of my house, plus I have a portable unit that I can wheel around, like those people that use oxygen canisters. I’m MUCH better now, so here goes:

An eco-friendly casino/resort/co-op! Don’t you love it?!?!!? The name is Greenbacks; that was Helen’s idea. It will be in the shape of the recycling symbol, and it will be powered by solar panels, turbines, and bicycles like on Gilligan’s Island. People can pedal for food when they have gambled away all their money. We’ll recycle the food from the other casinos, and whatever the ‘volunteer’ pedalers don’t eat we can compost. Inside the open space in the middle will be the garden, composting and chicken coop area, where we will generate all of our food.

Of course, foraging animals take up a lot of resources, so our buffet meals will be most vegetarian, but once a year we’ll have a cattle drive. People will have to sign up in advance because it will be super popular, and we’ll drive organic cows into our compound, slaughter them and feast on the meat. Then we’ll let our guests tan the leather and fur, and make their own clothes and shoes. You might think that’s a little crazy, but Caesar’s has a make your own shoe shop. I saw it about 37 times because it was right across from the slushy machines that excrete the gigantic margaritas, so you can be sure it’s an accurate report. And it was very popular; just imagine if you could charge extra to tan your own leather!

We’ll have all the amenities tourists have come to expect from a Vegas vacation, not to worry. We’ll just have to make a few modifications to meet our green standards. The go-go dancers, for example. Clearly, there are some decency standards in Vegas, so the outfits will have to cover their bikini lines. Hemp, I’m thinking, with acorn belly chains.

We’ll have an ample supply of fresh water with a state-of-the-art urine recycler. Stations on the strip for all the drunks to pee into, combined with the toilets inside Greenbacks, should give us plenty to work with. It might even work with the cow's blood! We could have rovers working inside the casino, too, with portable pee recyclers on their backs, and then they could just pee on demand, and dispense fresh water for the gamblers. I’m on the fence about solid waste- whether we should have composting toilets, or collect it and turn it into fertilizer all in one place. I’m interested in your opinions, so let me know what you think!

Just like all the other casinos, we’ll have tours to all the important sites. Rickshaws will run every hour to the Goodwill. Six-seaters will probably be big enough because there will be so much else to do, what with the butchering and all. A full tour schedule is available on request. Reserve your trip now; spots will fill up fast!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Did you get the memo on the paper?

I work in a government office, and you might have heard something about budget problems in our public agencies lately. My office just got some seriously bad news: we are down to our last box of 8.5 x 11 printer paper. Dude! Printer paper is like the fuel that powers the machine where I work. The place will grind to a screeching halt in a hurry if the supply is cut off, and at least six, no.... seven people will immediately shrivel up and die. We've already had to go to double-sided printing. You would think people would embrace that; it cuts the paper usage in half, so that's like two trees a day, but surprisingly, this has not been a super popular move.

But if we get cut down to zero on the paper front, what are we going to push around? All day long, piles, folders, clipboards, and binders, all cram-jammed with dead trees, get schlepped from cube to cube, from one end of the office to the other. Over and over and over, like a perpetual motion machine. I've been brainstorming ideas for a good substitute, and the best thing I can come up with is old computer monitors on old office chairs. The pushing would be easy, because of the wheels, and it would be efficient because we'd be pushing two things at one time. The scary thing is, I can totally picture this in my mind, and it wouldn't be all that different. Pretty viable, don't you think?

If that doesn't work out, I have another idea to acquire the paper we need: a swap operation with other public agencies. As it happens, we have an ample supply of legal paper, which we don't use very often, and I did an inventory of the supply room. We have:

A polaroid camera, still in the box
4 unopened boxes of 3.5" floppy disks
23 dirty mouse pads
119 pounds of tabbed sheets
47 2" white binders
4 boxes of toilet seat covers
3 cubic yards of desktop organizers in various configurations
14 pencil sharpeners
Large box of fortune cookies
6 reams carbon paper

I'm thinking we can appoint a Swapmaster, which should definitely be a good promotion for someone. Not me, though- I'm not a good bargainer, plus I'm not really ambitious. The new Swapmaster could set up in the supply room on the big table with all the goods and start wheeling and dealing to get the printer paper, and we also desperately need some kleenex right away. I mentioned it at the staff meeting today and they just laughed at me, so I guess that means they all want to try the office chairs and computer monitors first. I'll let you know how it turns out! I might consider putting up pictures but I don't want to get canned. Maybe I can make everyone disguise their identities while they careen around the hallways- we can probably get a gross of masks from the health department in exchange for the fortune cookies. And, just in case that doesn't work out, keep your eyes open for surplus you might want to trade; I'll put in a good word for you with the Swapmaster.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Happy Daylight Savings Time! I woke up this morning and wobbled down the hallway like a drunken goat. What, you never saw a drunken goat? You totally should; they are HILARIOUS. Usually, I can nimbly pick my way through the hallway for coffee, but today I almost went down face first in the giant pile of transformer underwear that seems to always be there, no matter what I do.

Seriously, I was almost delirious from getting up in the middle of the night. I think they should change the time ten minutes a day for six days. Well, that’s not quite true: I think they shouldn’t change the time at all; it seems pretty stupid to me. It’s not as if we are ACTUALLY getting more light, now is it? But if they insist on doing it, they should do it my way and spread the torture out. They never listen to me, though. I don’t know why; I’m happy to share my opinion any time. Call me!

I finally pulled it together and made it to work on time. Since I get in early, I took advantage of the opportunity to change all the clocks in the building match my watch. Brilliant, yes? I was feeling VERY satisfied deep down inside, until I realized my socks didn’t match.

Oh, sure, I know we were supposed to start DST on Sunday morning, and so I should have been more with it on Monday. I mean, NOW I know. It would have been nice to know on Sunday, when we invited a whole passel of people over. Lloyd’s birthday party was at 1, and I was quite cross when the whole gang showed up at 11:57. I made them finish cleaning up while I took a shower. I now realize that they were extremely punctual and I was very rude. But hey, oh well- free vacuuming! At least we didn’t try to go to church; that would have been VERY embarrassing, and I could do without any more church humiliation, thanks.

And, as you know, clock changing time is when you’re supposed to do all those semi-annual chores: change the batteries in your smoke detectors, update/rotate your emergency kit, and clean your bathrooms. Also in that vein, it’s flood awareness week, so be prepared, people!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Words of brilliant wisdom from 1938

**again with the editing! A few points of clarification: FINE, I was not so much sorting stuff at my parent's house as grumping around while my sister and my aunt worked. WHATEVER. Also, of course, as revolutions go, I'm a fan of the non-violent type, which are entirely possible, no matter what Lloyd says. That is all.**

So! What super fun things are all you guys up to today? I am at my parents' house sorting through my dead mother's stuff- and boy, is it a BLAST. She was a big genealogist, and so there are piles of things from her ancestors. One of her grandfathers, Josef, was a real character, and he was not shy about speaking out against injustice, which often made him unpopular among the townspeople. Which he did not give a rat's ass about, apparently. I came across some of his writing today, and had to post a little excerpt, because it is so remarkably similar to what I wrote yesterday:

April 1938: Oh yes, there is general demand that the telegraph and telephone rates be lowered, and it can be done by not giving a set of hogs an enormous profit. The fact is, big business is grabbing all the money; it will make very little difference, how much money the government spends to relieve unemployment, in a short time it will be in possession the rich, and we are on the same old place, where we were before; that is the curse of our competitive or capitalist or profit system, and when our national credit will be gone, we will either face a dictator or a revolution, for it is hardly possible that 99% of the people will submit to the financial and economic tyranny of less than 1%.

SING IT, GRAMPS, AND BRING ON THE REVOLUTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Screw you, preemies

***update: the March of Dimes has reversed their position on this, most likely in response to public outrage. Or a giant drop in donations.

**edited to add: here is a link to a blog post by Michele, who has posted the pharmaceutical companys' contact information, if you feel that doing something might be more productive than angrily ranting. Now, on to your regularly scheduled tirade**

Boy, I sure am sick of people getting screwed over by big business and the US Government. I'm really not sure which of them is worse. I could write a post every hour until my fingers fell off and still not even scratch the surface of the appalling lack of liberty and justice for all around here. Tax cuts for the rich while soldiers die for lack of equipment, gazillion dollar bailouts for Wall Street and Detroit with big fat bonuses for executives while families across the country go without health care, adequate child care and education, regular attacks on freedoms of every kind, and the list goes on and on. Today, though, I really want to vomit. The FDA has proudly announced that they have approved the first drug ever to prevent premature birth. Too bad they didn't mention that it has, in fact, been in use for years at a cost of $10-20 per injection, and that research and development was funded with tax dollars, and now they've allowed a pharmaceutical company exclusive rights to it, and the company is charging $1,500 per dose. You can read all the disgusting details here, and you can be sure it's a bad deal all around when even Fox News is pissed off about it.

Outrageous, right? How can this even happen? Here's how: it's all about the money. The pharmaceutical industry spends a lot of cash paying off lawmakers in exchange for legislation that guts the powers of the agencies that are supposed to be regulating the industry, and it's perfectly legal, thanks to all those legislators sucking up campaign donations and fact-finding trips. Here's the FDA's page on 'partnerships'. I especially like how they come right out and say they're looking for ways to get drugs approved without incurring a cost to the government. It's like high-class panhandling. Or hooking. Actually, now that I think about it, I find both of those things infinitely more respectable. And it's just going to get worse, now that the Supreme Court has decided that corporations cannot be restricted in their political spending. Big business will not rest until they have sucked every last cent from citizens like you and me, and destroyed the soil, the water and the air in their neverending quest for more, more, more. What a bunch of greedy, ridiculous bastards.

But that's the inherent flaw in democracy, isn't it? People are greedy, and government by the people means the people in government vote to enrich themselves at the expense of all the rest of us. It won't last long, though: it's simply not sustainable. So stock up on canned food, water, wine-making equipment and warm clothes. You probably won't need those guns and ammo, though- as it turns out, humans are social creatures and rapidly build thriving, happy, communal groups in post-disaster situations when they are sans government 'assistance', and then these lovely new communties are even more rapidly destroyed when government control is reestablished. If you're interested in this, an excellent book is Rebecca Solnit's 'Paradise Built in Hell'. So the coming apocalypse is for the best, really. I'm sure that those of us that survive the massive crash of resources will be much better off. Plus we'll be much skinnier, and that's super important.

Also, the March of Dimes can kiss my ass. In exchange for hefty donations from the pharmaceutical industry, they have endorsed this sickening travesty. The blood of the tiniest of the tiny is on their grasping outstretched hands, and their hypocrisy is astounding beyond words.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vegas is all kinds of awesome, especially the giant margaritas that come out of a slushy machine

You all know I went to Vegas with Helen, right? It was a fantastic trip and I was all happy and squishy inside until I came home and my cat got run over. We are already planning a trip for next year and I'm definitely not going to have that happen again- I'll probably just kill all the pets in advance this time. So, here are the highlights, in no particular order but saving the best for last:

We saw Rita Rudner's show; she is VERY funny, and her show was nice and early so we had plenty of time to get a couple of giant margaritas that come out of a slushy machine and still go to bed by 10.

The Bodies exhibit was really interesting and not gross at all, though it definitely had that potential. There were whole bodies as well as separate parts, and I was amazed by the scale of some of them- the spinal column was so huge it looked like it wouldn't even fit inside someone, even if you used a crowbar, while the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes were so teeny that the whole assembly would fit in your cupped hand. Also, don't smoke. The smoker's lungs look like grilled cheese sandwiches that were charred because the chef was drinking beer and reading blogs and forgot about them. Not that I would know. We went in the morning, leaving the entire afternoon free for giant margaritas that come out of a slushy machine.

Then, lunch at the Crown and Anchor, an authentic British pub. I was pretty skeptical about the authenticity, but Helen assures me it's as close to the real thing as you can get. I'm not sure how much time she spent in pubs, since she left there when she was nine, but I'll take her word for it. It was too early for beers, and they didn't have one of those awesome margarita slushy machines. Probably not authentic enough. WHATEVER.

We hit the Bellagio for fine art and botanical gardens; very nice. I'm a fan, but again, no margarita slushy machine. The art gallery was nice and small, just about the right size to look at a tolerable amount of art and act all pretentious without actually getting too bored. They had all the good stuff too- Picasso, Degas, Renoir, and a giant one of a guy's head done by a guy that lives about ten miles from me. It sort of looks like one in my sister's living room, only hers has a bunch of eyeballs all over it. That probably makes it WAY more valuable.

And last, but definitely not least, the Las Vegas thrift store! We rode the city bus past the gun store, which has a giant billboard that says you can try a real machine gun. That was super tempting, but we stayed on the bus. And we were glad we did; the Las Vegas Goodwill was outstanding! It was jam-packed with good stuff, and it was 50% off day. For 13.98, I got three pairs of pants, two shirts, and two VHS tapes. Helen controlled herself a little better than me, but believe you me, she was IMPRESSED.

And that's the Vegas report, until next year!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

FINALLY, having a pilot in the house pays off!

Oh, sure, I'm used to all the regular perks of having a pilot in the house. The protracted eye-glazing explanations of closure rates and lag time, the 90 lb bags of boring ass books laying around, the endless hand waving, and the regular assurance that the pilot has everything under control, even if he can't find his own underwear or the ketchup that's right in front of his face.

But today it finally paid off, for real. We flew to Friday Harbor for lunch at a lovely seaside restaurant. Of course, I generally despise flying in small airplanes, and had to get loaded on tranquilizers first. Lloyd let each of the boys control the wheel for a little while as they sat in the front seat, kicking their feet at a panel of innumerable switches, any of which could immediately plunge us into an icy Puget Sound death. Once the horse pills kicked in and the terror was ratcheted down a notch, it was a super trip. Here's a few pictures: