Monday, December 31, 2007

My Christmastime "Adventure"

The Friday before Christmas, I woke up about thirty minutes early. I wanted time to get everything down to my car because that was the day I was headed to my parents' house for the weekend before Christmas. I got ready for work, packed up my car, and headed off to work, in my car, which I think I've only done three or four times in my 27 months working here.

See, the governator, in his infinite wisdom, had given us all some informal time off, four hours paid where we don't have to work, for the holiday. Since there's a problem with the headlights, I wanted to leave early and these extra hours were perfect. And leaving from work would get me moving twenty minutes earlier! Perfect.

I got to work and poked around. I didn't do much actual work because I didn't have any and SMSN wasn't here to be all enforcer-like, so I could play silly games and read crap. I shut down my computer five minutes before noon, pulled my sweatshirt on, and read until I could leave. When all the hands pointed up, I sped out of here. I paid for my parking, got in my car, pulled out the leftover pizza I brought for lunch and headed out of town.

Traffic wasn't bad through town. On the highway, people were going slower than they needed to, but they were close to the speed limit and I had myPod playing songs I like and know, so I could sing along. I drove and drove and got to the really narrow part of the highway and traffic became a cross between crawling and stopping. I think I spent forty minutes crawling and stopping before I saw the messy accident that caused it. (Didn't see any people, just smashed cars and glass and the CHP guys.) Even after that the traffic wasn't smooth because farther down some CHP guys had set up a detour for the people who wanted to drive to the west. I was about an hour behind my normal schedule by this time.

After that, it was smoothing sailing for about 3000 feet when the freeway started and things got pokey. Traffic didn't stop, but it was really slow and pretty tight. I kept my car to the nearly all the way right lane because my exit was only about two miles away.

Traffic though that town was pretty good. We moved at nearly the speed limit and I knew that once I got out of town speed would pick up; after all, it was only two in the afternoon.

I was right. After I got through town I hit the gas and finally, after two hours of driving, got my car to 55 MPH. That's when the car started shaking, well bouncing, really fast and I heard a "whump whump whump" sound that went along with the bounces. Stuff in the passenger seat started rattling. I took my foot off the gas and as the car slowed, the bouncing stopped and the sound stopped. I figured I would just cruise at fifty and take the rest of the trip slow and be a bit more late to my parents' house and while I was there I could talk to my dad about the problem and we could work out whether I needed to take it to someone to get it fixed.

I cruised along for a few miles when the car started steering funny and was trying to pull me into the other lane. My snow driving experience kicked in and my foot came off the gas and I tried to hold the car steady so I wouldn't go into the other lane or steer too hard off the road. It took me a few seconds before I realized that I had blown a tire.

I pulled off the road as far as I could because there's not too much of a shoulder on that highway and I wanted to feel fairly safe while changing the driver’s side front tire.

Out I climbed into the biting wind and walked to the back of the car to free the jack and the doughnut. With those in hand, I walked back to the front of the car. I set the doughnut down and looked for the right place to set up the jack. The gravel on the side of the road hurt my knees as I twisted the handle to get the car up enough so I could get the tire off. The tread on the tire had peeled away leaving it bald and thin. When I got the tire off, I found the tread wrapped around the axel. I sighed and carried the tire and the tread and tossed them into the car; I didn't want to be one of those assholes who leave their messes on the side of the road. I got the doughnut up and on and cranked the car back down to the ground.

The jack safely stowed in the back of the car, I climbed back into my seat and started the car up. It had only taken me about 40 minutes to do everything. Not bad for a guy who hates working on cars. I put it in gear, waited for a break in the traffic, and hit the gas. The rear tires spun, but the car didn't move. I tried again. Nothing. I tried going in reverse. Lots of noise, but no moving. I tried going forward one more time and when nothing happened I set the parking break, turned off the car, and sighed.

About a mile behind me was a railroad museum. I head toward it hoping to find a phone, crossing the street when the shoulder on my side got way too small. I kept thinking that at least it wasn't raining, and then I'd check the sky to make sure there weren't any clouds above me that could open up and pour. The sky stayed clear, thank you.

The sign at the museum said that it was only opened on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, the gate was open and there was a car parked in front of the building. I walked over and knocked on the door. A guy came and I told him what was going on. He let me come in. At first he wanted me to dial 911, but I only needed a tow truck to yank me out. He offered me his cell phone and dug out a phone book for me to use. I called for a tow, then went to the road to wait.

The clock in the truck showed four as I climbed into the cab and buckled in. I explained to the driver what the problem was and off we went. He sang along with the twangy country music that was on the radio and a minute or two later I pointed out my car. He slowed down, looked at the ground and decided that he couldn't get my car out, safely, unless CHP was there to slow or stop traffic. At the nearest turn around point, he radioed in and told them what he needed. We got back on the road and headed for the museum because that was the only place he could turn around to get going in the direction my car was pointed. At that turn around, he radioed in again to ask about when the CHP would come. The guy on the radio said no one was coming, that they couldn't help me, and there was no charge to me. It was 4:15.

I climbed out of the cab, thanking the guy for coming out and giving me fifteen minutes of warmth, and headed back toward my car and the nearest emergency phone.

At the phone, I picked it up and pushed the button to call directly to CHP. I didn't want to do this on my way down because I knew I needed a tow truck and I didn't want to bother anyone that I didn't have to. Now I had to bother them. Some woman picked up and I explained that I needed a tow and where I was and that I did understand that I'd have to pay for the tow and I gave her my information and I told her that I was going to wait at my car.

The walk back was colder. The sun was lower and there was more wind. At one point, a truck pulled off the road in front of me. I wondered if the driver was going to offer me a ride. Out of the window came an empty plastic bottle, then a McDonald's bag, then more bottles, an ash tray, and another bottle. When I got up to the window, I was offered a ride. I turned him down. Not only was my car just over the little hill, but I really didn't want to ride with someone who used the highway as his trash can. Sometimes, beggars can be choosers, they just have to know when it's okay to make that choice.

The rest of the walk was as uneventful as walking along a busy highway could be.

I climbed into my car, which was chilly, but not windy, and waited.

I was very good about not turning the key every few minutes to check the time. I only checked every fifteen minutes.

At 6:15, with no tow truck or CHP in sight, I grabbed the flashlight out of the glove compartment and set out to the other, closer, emergency phone. I figured that two hours was enough time to wait for help and not get it. In the dark, the wind had died, so it felt warmer at six than it had at four.

I got to the phone, which was on the other side of the highway, and got through to a guy. I immediately told him that I had called, from a different phone, two hours earlier. He sounded concerned that no one had come for me and took all the same information that the woman had earlier. Before we hung up, I asked him to connect me with my parents so I could tell them I was okay and that I wouldn't be there when I originally thought I would and that I'd stay overnight wherever I ended up. We hung up and I headed back to my car.

I wasn't sure where the CHP would be coming from, though. Would the cruiser stop at the phone looking for me, or at my car? It probably depended on which direction it came from. So, I parked myself on a little hill, way off the shoulder, where I could watch my car and the phone. I stood there singing.

I don't know how long I waited.

Eventually there were lights behind my car. CHP had arrived. I hurried, but didn't run, over to the cruiser. The guy rolled down the passenger window and a rush of warmth hit my face. I explained to him my problem. He got out and looked at my car. He told me to get in and he'd look to see if he could pull me out. After a couple of minutes, he walked up to my window, which I had already rolled down, and told me that I needed a tow truck. In my brain I said, "No shit you fuck-head. That's why I've been trying to get one for the past three hours." In the real world I said, "Okay." He said he'd call one from his car and told me to stay where I was and asked me if I knew that I'd be paying for the tow. I said I knew.

More waiting.

When the tow truck got there, the CHP headed off so he could turn around and slow traffic for the yanking. Once again, I explained the problem. The truck driver quoted me a price and asked if it was okay, and I said yes, I just wanted my car out so I could get moving.

He hooked his cable up to my car and had me start the car so I could steer as he pulled. Steering felt weird, like it wasn't doing any good. When the driver stopped, he came to my window and told me to let off the breaks, I said they were off and the car was in neutral. He gave the car another yank then stopped again, came to the window and said my tire was locked and I'd need to be towed. I got out and saw the trench my front tire had dug.

I gritted my teeth so I wouldn't start cursing and said it was okay. I climbed into the cab of his truck and fumed while he hoisted my car up onto its back tires.

Lucky for me, the driver also has a repair shop and he told me, as he pulled into a motel, that he'd call the next morning and let me know what was going on. I said okay and snagged my bag from my car.

I got my room and dropped off my stuff. It was after eight.

Across the street was McDonald's, so that's where I bought my dinner, which I took back to my room with me. Before eating, I called my parents to let them know what was going on and to ask them to come and get me the next day if the car couldn't be fixed that day. They said okay, so I ate and showered and watched the singing numbers in White Christmas and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up when a woman pounded on my door. She wanted to make sure I didn't need anything, she said, but really, she was the cleaning lady and wanted to do all the upstairs rooms first. I called the repair shop and spoke with the guy. He hadn't looked at the car yet. A bit later, he called me back and told me that my brake line had broken and was leaking fluid. He said that all the places he knew of to get me the part were closed and wouldn't open until after Christmas.

I called my parents and told them. My brother, and his girlfriend, had offered to come and get me. He'd leave at ten, I was told. I knew it took about two hours to do the travel, but really screwed up my math and assumed he'd get there at 1 PM, which was good because after I checked out and went to McDonald's to sit and wait, I wasn't worried when they wasn't there at 12:45. They got there a little after one.

We headed over to the repair shop. No one was there. I called the guy and he said he'd send his son, so I could get my house key and an estimate. I pulled out my spare car key and my brother and his girlfriend and I unloaded my crap into their rental car. Eventually the guy's son got there (All I could think when I saw him was that this is how a douche must look in human form.) and I got my keys and the estimate.

And we were off.

We got to my parents' house around 4:00 PM. I was only 24 hours late getting there.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The explaining that I told Heels I'd do will not be done, today. We've started the stupid and pointless "project" I mentioned, but never described, today. During this "project" blogging will only happen if I write the night before at my apartment. The odds of that happening are very, very low.

I will try to get that explanation up, Heels, really.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tell Me

Why is Sweeney Todd playing here in two hours, but it doesn't appear to be up in Cowtown at all this week?

Son of a bitch.

Christmas Stories

I can't remember if I put these up last year, but they're back

Here's the first one:
Grinch's True End, first heard on 8 December 2003 on NPR, about 3 minutes long.
Best line: "Now I'm not sure what kind of inverted Stockholm Syndrom took place while I waited on the roof, but I do know it all could have been solved with a hard shove and a quick exit."

And here's the other:
A Fool for Christmas, first heard on 24 December 2005 on NPR about 23 minutes long.
Best Line: "Well, at the food court over fried dumplins and Butter-Bean, I'm askin' what I usually ask my dates: who kids real father is."

Anyone else have found audio stories like these?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Picture Meme!

I have nothing interesting to say here, so here's a meme I swiped from Jazz.

PS Click the pictures to see where they're from.

How old will you be on your next birthday?

Where would you like to visit?

What is your favorite place?

What are your favorite things?

What is your favorite food?

What is your favorite color?

What is your nickname?
I haven't had a nickname since Jr. High. Think of that what you will.

Where were you born?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Friday, we had a meeting to warn us that we're going to be doing here at work. We are going to be preparing our files to be scanned in. We were given some very basic instructions about how this prepping with be performed, but it didn't really cover any of the specifics to our files. The two people who were in charge of the meeting had only just had a teleconference that was with all the other branches in the state and, like all the big teleconferences this department holds, nothing was accomplished except for the roll call. Still, they wanted to give us a heads up and let us ask questions so they could get answers for us.

Today, we were e-mailed a revised edition of how we are going to be prepping the files. A couple of things were made clearer, but not much. SMSN, who is one of the two in charge for our office, sent it to we clerks and asked us for more questions for clarification. I, having completed my work and wanting to make sure I am well prepared to do lots of busy work, immediately read the steps, broke them down, and wrote as many questions as I could citing very specific problems with the process they've given us. I e-mailed it to all the clerks in our office, since we'll all be doing the prepping and I didn't SMSN to be bothered with the same questions over and over again. I was very careful not to mention scanning in my questions because no one in our office has actually seen the scanners we'll be using, although we've had them for six months, and no one has been trained on the procedures we'll be using to scan, we're just talking about getting the files cleaned up so scanning will, hopefully, go very smoothly.

Almost right away, I got an e-mail from GICS calling the whole prepping thing bullshit, which it is. I joked back and forth with him about it, but I tried to be, more or less, positive about the stupid things because we're going to have to do this, no matter what, and at least we're being given the opportunity to help bring some logic to the stupidity. Our last The Supervisor would have kept us all in the dark about the whole thing until she insisted we had to start working on it and then she would have gotten angry when we came to her with questions because, as with way too many jobs out there in the world, the people who want this stuff put into practice will not be trying their ideas out first, to see if their ideas actually work.

And then GICS sent an e-mail to SMSN, and CC'd the rest of us, calling the whole thing bullshit to her. He pointed out how crazy it is that we're prepping these things for machines that haven't been seen and a process that hasn't been created. He asked if she thought it was a good idea to prep the files before we actually know how things work.

SMSN wrote back that she thinks the process is pretty clear and got a little snarky with him.

Then she e-mailed me and asked if I had more questions or wanted things clarified.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

bored, bored, bored

I leave early today, but that doesn't stop the boring from creeping in. I held on to all the work I was giving yesterday until this morning. It didn't take long to finish. I wandered around the 'net just looking and nothing struck me.

What I really want to do is sit here and read my book, but I don't know if I could get away with that. It's not like high school where the teachers had thirty other students to watch and if one spent the whole hour reading a book, why should they care? Here, there are only a few of us and they expect us to be busy all the time, even though they know that we only get 2/3rds the work we got six months ago and a new person was hired in those last six months.

So, I try to look busy. I shuffle papers around at my desk. I keep a couple of files around. I get up and wander around (although that also helps with my sciatica crap). I type a letter to my parents. I poke around through comic archives. I roll around in my cubie area and grab my stapler as if I'm going to use it, bring the stapler back to my desk and ten minutes later I roll it back to its usual place. I cross off today on the calendar with the symbol I use to mark the short day. I eat a granola bar so I won't take the giant ibuprofen on an empty stomach. I listen to SHTK whine about stupid things and stupid people.

Still, I'm bored.

In my head I start thinking about the future. I start with the near future and the possibility of pizza for dinner. I move on to Friday and the drive to my parents' house and the brother, with his girlie friend, being there; the last time I saw him was a year ago and I've never met her. I wonder if JL and H, among others, will want to game. I skip to New Year's and think about how much I hate that holiday. Then I think farther wonder about people I may meet and places that I'll dream about visiting. I try to picture myself being visited by the spawn of my brothers, which is really hard, for reasons that I don't want to write about. I wander through the house that I'd like to own and I mow the lawn that I always wanted growing up and let much of the land go wild. I tend to an herb garden. I waltz with an old friend at her daughter's wedding. I fall asleep.

And now, along with bored, I'm a little sad, maybe more wistful.

I can't/don't picture what I used to think of as the perfect future for myself anymore. I suppose I don't believe in that movie happy ending.

Still, I'd like to live a day like that Lovin' Spoonful song "Rain of the Roof," just once.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Understanding? 2: Explaining

Remember the post I wrote with that article about changes in immigration policy in Denmark based off of the Muslim population?

Well, over the weekend, my Xanga repost got a reply, which I post in its entirety, unedited:
Your analysis obviously only depends on your feelings and not whether the article states defendible facts.

Your first response should have been check the facts of the article and having done that to analyse the facts. Only then can you decide whether the article is manipultive.

Look back in history and you will note the rise of many hateful and murderous totalitarian regimes. The first observes to warn the world of the potential horrors these regimes would visit on our world were labelled alarmist by people who where too lazy to check facts and prefered instead to slander the authors of the articles.

Having lived for extended periods in 4 Muslim countires and spent considerable time in a fifth, I can confirm simialr details as those noted in the article, Salute the Danish Flag - it's a Symbol of Western Freedom.

May I recount just one story for you? A friend of mine in the UAE awoke one morning to find the head of his 17 year old friend in the residential compound. His crime had been to question Islam as a result of a conversation my friend had had with him. His relatives, having beheaded him, had thrown the lad's head over the wall during the night.

Are all Muslims terrorists. Of course not. By stating one set of facts I am not stting anything more than one set of facts. Can I tell stories of great kindness I have seen displayed by Muslilms? Yes, many such stories. But I would have to say on balance that I cannot recall any of my friends finding the head of one of their friends in their garden except in the UAE. I do not know of any other culture that practises female circumcision other than Islamic ones. I do not know of any workers so poorly treated as those in the Gulf or Saudi, except perhaps in China or some other place you wouldn't want to work.

Please attempt next time to temper your views with facts before you allow your feelings to determine your response. If this challenge offends you then...go back and check the data before you reply. Then we can have a meaningful discussion.

Posted 12/15/2007 2:11 PM by Phillip Adams
He's not a regular Xanga user, so I couldn't check out his blog or find his opinions on other subject. I did learn, however, that his signal thing came Australia, so I assumed that he's from there.

I replied, unedited:
Phillip Adams -- I still think that the article in question is manipulative toward getting people to hating/fearing all Muslims while disguising it as an article about immigration policy. And that's what galls me. I don't like reading what I see as a manipulative piece geared toward hate that has been written as if it were an informational piece.

As I wrote earlier, a true article about immigration would have balanced itself by having information about non-Muslims immigrant groups and the problems they may, or may not, be having with integrating into the Danish culture and how the new laws (If there are new laws, since I did not go and check facts about them, that was not the intent of my post.) will effect EVERYONE who wants to immigrate to Denmark or has already immigrated there. No nation in Europe has the balls to ban just one group of people from moving into their country. (Unless they do it the sneaky way, like the US did in the late 19th early 20th centuries when they set policy to keep Italian and Irish immigrants out by making the legal numbers of immigrants allowed in be based on past numbers.) Therefore, any story about the change in immigration policy should be about all potential and existing immigrant groups, not just one very specific group.

(Pardon me if I repeated myself a few times in that last paragraph, but I thought it was necessary to get across that the purpose of my original post was not to defend the horrible things some people do or even to attack the woman who wrote this article, it was about me pointing out logical flaws and the lack of critical thinking among some people and how it frustrates me.)

As for the stuff about groups not integrating, it seems to me that every group that immigrates to the US has a tough time integrating and we, Americans, always have a problem with it. The Chinese with their braids and flat hats in the mid-19th century. Irish and Italians at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries with their Catholicism. Puerto Ricans in the 50s with their dark skin and Spanish. Vietnamese and Cambodian and other South Asian immigrants in the 70s and 80s with their slanted eyes and strange food. Russian and Ukrainian and other former Soviet Bloc immigrants in the 90s and 00s. And the Mexican and other people from Central American nations for decades. All new immigrants have a hard time integrating. At the best, when the groups that look like we do, they take only one or two generations to start to integrate with the culture. If the groups don't look like the average American (Which, lets face it, tends to be thought of as F*R*I*E*N*D*S creamy white.) they take longer because it's easier to feel like an outsider and hold on to the "old country" culture.

In the USA, all of these groups have also been accused of consuming the largest, or a large, portion of social services. Is it true? I don't know, I didn't, and haven't, looked up statistics. It sure is easy for it to feel true, though. It's a lot easier to point that person with dark skin or slanted eyes or a strange accent using government medical care or collecting food stamps or asking for workers' comp, isn't it?

How long have large quantities of Muslims been immigrating to "western" (AKA white) nations to live there, not just work? Fifteen or twenty years? So that's, what, like one generation born into that new culture? Time is what's needed for the integration to take place; until enough time has passed there will always be problems with shift from old to new. Crime goes up and hatred is spread. It's stupid and pointless and harmful to all those who want to just live their lives, but it has happened before and it's going to happen over and over again.

(Of course, being from Australia, there's never been a problem with the Aboriginal culture integrating into the European based culture, has there.)

The story you tell about what happened in the United Arab Emmirants is horrendous and I don't want you, or anyone else, to think that I would ever defend people for something like that; people should never be punished for asking questions, especially hard questions. I hate the thought that anyone anywhere could practice something like female genital mutilation. I can not and will not defend people who rape or mutilate or commit murder. Those people should be punished, no matter the color of that person's skin, the slant of that person's eyes, or the way that person prays. Terrible things are being done by some Muslims, I'd have to be insane to not see that, but I am not going to let those few scare me into hating everyone who follows the teachings and writings found in the Qur'an. If I do that, then the nasty people really have won.

Also from your story, I think I need to remind you that the UAE isn't Denmark. One has a, basically, hereditary "presidency" and was founded based on its interpretations of Islamic law and is still struggling with having elections. The other was a Christian monarchy that developed into a constitutional monarchy with a republic style parliament elected by popular vote by the people. I think, in a political context, comparing the UAE and Denmark is like comparing apples to spark plugs. Maybe one day it'll be more like comparing the apples to oranges or Fujis to Granny Smiths, but not until the UAE really moves toward true elections or Denmark's system crashes.

I won't pretend to be perfect or even necessarily right, Mr. Adams. I'm not a world traveler. I don't know what conditions are like in the Middle East, other than what I see on TV or read online or hear on the radio. I just want to believe that, for the most part, people are good and that they want peace and safety and love. (Yes, I know that's naive.)

As for "temper[ing my] views with facts before [I] allow [my] feelings to determine [my] response," I was practicing New Criticism, where a person uses the text as the source and finds the meaning (or meanings) by using what was and wasn't written in the actual text. That's why, in my original entry, I didn't get into the history of Denmark or go online to find sources about the crime rates of other immigrant groups in Denmark or even find out if the policy changes actually exist.

Being challenged does not offend me. If everyone out there thought and felt as I did, this would be a dull world. My thoughts and feelings should be challenged because I like to understand why I think and feel the way I do so I can better understand myself and my (basically) insignificant place in the world.

And I don't know what sort of data you wanted me to check before responding, since my only sources, originally, were the article and the e-mails between me and my co-worker and nothing else.

I'm going to use you're comment and my response as a blog post, just to let you know.
I still don't know if my response was good, as in well written or well argued, but I do think that the intent of the original post was more about how critical thinking is, or isn't, used out there when people read things meant to play on people's fears, and not about whether Denmark's new policies may be good or some Muslims have done and continue to do horrible things. (I also think that there are some Christians and Hindus and Buddhists and Taoists who use their religions to justify doing horrible things, too.)

Of course, talking about anything that mentions religion is like talking about abortion, people can rarely see beyond their gut reaction, even me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Tired. (Dunno why. Slept well last night.)

Angry. (Because here at work someone's personal call, on a cell phone, at his desk, about the baby's laundry, is more important than trying to sort out rules that aren't too clear.)

Sore. (Scroll down to yesterday's post.)

Didn't read all my comics last night. (Watched Batman Beyond for longer than I intended.) Wonder why Booster Gold lets Barbara Gordon get shot. (Does he change history and find it to be not better?)

Did read the end of "The Sinestro Corp War." (The prophecy is interesting. Think that Kanjar Ro will lead the Orange Lanterns, when they come about.)

Other stuff read doesn't stick in my mind too well. (Although I do remember enough of one to know that Ice and Fire are soul mates, which doesn't mean they are, or even should be, lovers.)

Rude Cactus realized he is not a realist and asked what people do to get through. (No answer from me. Not sure what I do, or why I do, but I do.)

Still have to find Christmas gifts for parents. (Do coupons for hugs and kisses still work when you're nearing 30?)

Not sure if I'm going to buy any gifts for some friends this year. (Just don't really feel like shopping for and thinking about others, I guess. What does that make me? Anything at all?)

Be on my way to Cowtown for Christmas in about 188 hours. (Not planning on hurting my then.)

Done. (The End.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pain in the Leg

Let me ask, how many of you have had a pinched sciatica?

Raise your hands. Don't be shy.

Well, since I can't see through your monitor, dear reader, I have no idea who of you has experienced the agony of a pinched sciatica.

Remember back before Thanksgiving when I wrote about a twinge in my back? After I got back here from Thanksgiving, it felt better. No pain at all.

On Thursday, as I was walking to work, my low back and my right leg suddenly burned and I couldn't walk any more. I stopped right where I was and stood there swearing under my breath. I hobbled over to the nearest bench and sat down for a minute, happy to know that the pain was gone. I sat for a minute, or two... or five... before I finally felt like I could stand up, which, ouch, and walk again. I hobbled the rest of the way to work, each step causing pain down the outside of my leg, from hip to heel. When I got to my desk and sat I felt better, but each time I got up, it hurt.

Friday, it still hurt, but I got up, showered, and walked to work, with a quick stop for sitting in the park, this time planned for. Still I hurt standing and walking, but not so much sitting. After work, I went to the movies (I saw The Golden Compass. It was pretty good. It sucks that they give away the mysteries in a prologue, I wish they had gone with the ending in the book, and I thought there were scenes that needed more space to breath, but Sam Elliot was wonderful and so was the bear and the bear fight was brutal. There's a moment, during the bear fight, where the audience was stunned into silence.) but had real trouble getting back to my apartment. I sat on the steps of the church near where I live and think I saw a drug deal go down.

(Although, it could just be my imagination. But I saw a car get parked near the church, the guy got off and walked away. A couple of minutes later, a car pulled up in front of the steps I was sitting on and a guy got out and the car left. This new guy walked over to the car that had just been parked and groped around on the ground near the driver side front tire. When he found something, he opened the door, started the car, and drove off. Weird, no?)

On Saturday, I had trouble sitting as well as walking. So, I spent most of the day laying down in front of the TV.

Sunday, I climbed into the shower and had a real hard time getting through it. I did, eventually, and headed out to do my laundry. I hurt, hurt, hurt all through the laundry. I didn't stay to fold; I pulled the clothes out of the dryer and headed out, to the grocery store. At the store, I leaned on the shopping cart as if it were a walker. When I got back to my apartment, I only made two trips. I made damn sure I wouldn't take anymore than two trips. Between trip, I collapsed on the floor, gasping for breath and cursing up a storm in my mind. It was around 10:30 AM when I finished putting the stuff that needed to be in the fridge in, the rest sat (and sits) in bags on the floor of the kitchen. I settled down on the floor, on my left side, and turned on the TV. I was there for an hour, with slight variation in how I lay there. By noon, the pain was so intense, I finally got the phone to set up an appointment with anyone. After getting the run around, I was told that I was put on a list and I'd be called back to set up an appointment. Someone finally called me around 3:30. I got an appointment for nine the next morning.

The next morning, my leg screaming in pain, I called into work to let them know I wouldn't be there right away, that I had to go to the doctor's. I almost didn't make it through the shower that morning, but I did and I eventually made it down to my car and into the seat. The drive there was HORRIBLE. Agonizing pain burning in my ankle, shooting right below my knee, and throbbing below my hip. Sweat beaded on my forehead. I made it to the medical center, although I can't tell you how, ten minutes before my appointment. Then I had to search for the office. I couldn't see my usual doctor because she's on vacation. I found it pretty quickly, but there was a line of eight people. I stood there, in pain, through one person and my stomach started churning and I started sweating more. I broke out of line in search of the nearest toilette. I barged, as well as I could, through the door and to the first stall I saw and heaved. Nothing came up, and I heaved again. Still, nothing. I heaved two or three more times before I finally thought about taking off my glasses so they wouldn't fall into the public water. I sat there for a little while just breathing.

Eventually, I got up and, shivering, headed back to the check in place. There were more people in line and the lady I was behind the last time was two from the counter. I pulled the line to the chairs along the wall so I could sit as I waited and waited and waited. Finally, at the counter, the lady informed me that I was late and asked if it was the line or was I really late and then she told me she had to call to make sure they would still see me. They did. I explained my problem and, really without even thinking, the doctor announced sciatica problems. Hooray! He prescribed me 800MG of ibuprofen. Hooray! I took the pill, hopped in my car and painfully drove back to my apartment.

When I got on the floor, I felt better. Not just better because I was on the floor, but better than I'd felt since Thursday. The ibuprofen was working! In time, I got to the phone and called in to say I wasn't gonna be there that day and explained the problem.

Yesterday, I woke up, took my pills, and went to the shower. After washing my legs, I fell to my knees in pain and decided I wasn't going to work, again. I finished up, called in, and turned on the TV. (I was on the last season of Angel.) The day was long, long, long. I did get to call my brother and wish him a happy birthday and chat for a while. That was really great. The rest of the day was very dull with the TV and the occasional pill and the pain and the trying to walk or sit through the pain before settling on my back, again.

Today, I just forced myself to come to work. I still hurt pretty bad, but it's not as bad as it's been. I took the huge pill and when I started hurting a lot again, I popped some fake Tylenol. I'm finishing this on my knees in front of the computer. I really look forward to getting back to my apartment.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Fiction Friday #23


Shani was up front, out in the lobby, talking to her friend, what's-her-name, again. I sat watching her and her friend talk, tapping the first button on my waist when the phone rang, "Russo, Taggart, Godwin & Rose, how can I help you?" I looked at the bottle the bottle of orange juice. It wasn't dripping anymore. I doubted it was even cold.

"Uhh, yeah," said some guys voice, "I want to talk to my lawyer."

Shani and her friend were laughing.

"And you attorney is?" I asked, rolling my eyes at Shani.

"It's Ed, darlin'," he said. "My lawyer's Ed."

Shani put her hand on her friend's arm and leaned.

"Sir, we have three attorneys here who could be called 'Ed,' can you give me a last name?" I hoped that I wasn't starting to sound irritated, but to me, my voice sounded high and pinched.

"I can't remember. Do you think you can read me their names?"

I tapped the first button to turn him off and sighed before I pressed it again and said, "Klein. Harstead. Wallace."

"No," said the guy. I pictured him in ratty red flannel over a greased up t-shirt and missing teeth grimacing and slowly shaking his head from side to side. "I don't think any of those are my lawyer, honey. Got anymore?"

Shani finished up with her friend and turned toward me. She upped her smile from genuine happy to beaming when her eyes met mine. She wanted something.

"Those are the only attorneys we have here who go by 'Ed,' sir. Maybe if I got your name?"

Shani stopped in front of my desk and leaned in. Her friend hadn't left the lobby, yet.

I cycled through the computer so I could enter the guys name.

"Joey," said the voice on the phone, "Joey Cal. What's yours?"

"Hold on,"I said, "let me check." I pressed the first button, looked up into Shani's broad smile and vacant eyes, and said, "Yeah?"

I typed his name and Shani said, "Look, I know I just got back from my break and all, and I'm sort of..." -- Her smile widened and she winked. -- "But, well, I was sort of wondering--" I cut her off with a raise of my hand. I knew what she wanted.

I hit the first button again, "Mr. Cal, we don't have you in our system. Are you sure your calling the right office?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. I was just in court with Ed yesterday."

"And it was about?"

"That hit and run thing they're blaming me for," he whispered.

Shani turned away from me and sort of waggled her head at her friend. The phone rang.

"I think you want the Public Defender's office."

"Isn't--" he said as the phone rang again, I pressed the first button and then the second one and said, "Russo, Taggart, Godwin & Rose, please hold."

"I will no--" I heard as I hit the second and then the first.


"I'm afraid not. You've dialed 578-1683, but the Public Defender's office is 575-1683."

"Oh," he said.

Shani turned toward me and moved her hands in the "hurry up" motion.

"Lots of people make that mistake. It's okay."

"Darlin', what was that number again?" he asked.

I told him and he thanked me. After I said good-bye to him, Shani said, "Look, Cleo's here and I wanted to--"

I cut her off with my hand again and glared as tapped the second button and I said, "Thank you for holding, how can I help you."

And guy on the end of this line started swearing at me. It was almost musical, the way he did it. It reminded me of the way that Ludacris or 50 Cent got when they were on a role, all the normal curse words peppered with careful helpings of misogyny. He'd make millions.

"Sir," I said, trying to get anything in when he took a breath, "I can help you, now."

He kept going. Shani leaned over and frowned at me. I rolled my eyes at her.

"Sir, please call back when you're calmer," I said and hung up.

"Finally," said Shani.

I stood up, pulled off my headset, and unclipped the button box from my pants pocket.

"Where are you going?" She asked.

I picked up my orange juice and said, "On my break?"

"But..." she said.

The phone rang.

"Better get that," I said, waving to what's-her-name as I slipped out the front door.

At the bus bench on the corner, I opened the juice and took a long drink. It was warm and it was sour, but it was perfect.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I got this e-mail this morning from a co-worker, it's title is "Salute the Danish Flag (Worth Reading)":

Very interesting - worth the reading.

An interesting article on Islamic immigration and the problems created.

Salute the Danish Flag - it's a Symbol of Western Freedom
By Susan MacAllenIn 1978-9 I was living and studying in Denmark.

But in 1978 - even in Copenhagen, one didn't see Muslim immigrants. The Danish population embraced visitors, celebrated the exotic, went out of its way to protect each of its citizens.

It was proud of its new brand of socialist liberalism - one in development since the conservatives had lost power in 1929 - a system where no worker had to struggle to survive, where one ultimately could count upon the state as in, perhaps, no other western nation at the time. The rest of Europe saw the Scandinavians as free-thinking, progressive and infinitely generous in their welfare policies. Denmark boasted low crime rates, devotion to the environment, a superior educational system and a history of humanitarianism.

Denmark was also most generous in its immigration policies – it offered the best welcome in Europe to the new immigrant: generous welfare payments from first arrival plus additional perks in transportation, housing and education. It was determined to set a world example for inclusiveness and multiculturalism. How could it have predicted that one day in 2005 a series of political cartoons in a newspaper would spark violence that would leave dozens dead in the streets - all because its commitment to multiculturalism would come back to bite?

By the 1990's the growing urban Muslim population was obvious – and its unwillingness to integrate into Danish society was obvious. Years of immigrants had settled into Muslim-exclusive enclaves. As the Muslim leadership became more vocal about what they considered the decadence of Denmark's liberal way of life, the Danes - once so welcoming - began to feel slighted. Many Danes had begun to see Islam as incompatible with their long-standing values: belief in personal liberty and free speech, in equality for women, in tolerance for other ethnic groups, and a deep pride in Danish heritage and history.

The New York Post in 2002 ran an article by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard, in which they forecasted accurately that the growing immigrant problem in Denmark would explode. In the article they reported:

"Muslim immigrants constitute 5 percent of the population but consume upwards of 40 percent of the welfare spending."

"Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists, an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims are non-Muslim. Similar, if lesser, disproportions are found in other crimes."

"Over time, as Muslim immigrants increase in numbers, they wish less to mix with the indigenous population. A recent survey finds that only 5 percent of young Muslim immigrants would readily marry a Dane."

"Forced marriages - promising a newborn daughter in Denmark to a male cousin in the home country, then compelling her to marry him, sometimes on pain of death - are one problem."

"Muslim leaders openly declare their goal of introducing Islamic law once Denmark's Muslim population grows large enough – a not-that-remote prospect. If present trends persist, one sociologist estimates, every third inhabitant of Denmark in 40 years will be Muslim."

It is easy to understand why a growing number of Danes would feel that Muslim immigrants show little respect for Danish values and laws. An example is the phenomenon common to other European countries and the U.S.: some Muslims in Denmark who opted to leave the Muslim faith have been murdered in the name of I slam, while others hide in fear for their lives.

Jews are also threatened and harassed openly by Muslim leaders in Denmark, a country where once Christian citizens worked to smuggle out nearly all of their 7,000 Jews by night to Sweden – before the Nazis could invade. I think of my Danish friend Elsa - who as a teenager had dreaded crossing the street to the bakery every morning under the eyes of occupying Nazi soldiers - and I wonder what she would say today.

In 2001, Denmark elected the most conservative government in some 70 years - one that had some decidedly non-generous ideas about liberal unfettered immigration. Today Denmark has the strictest immigration policies in Europe. ( Its effort to protect itself has been met with accusations of "racism" by liberal media across Europe - even as other governments struggle to right the social problems wrought by years of too-lax immigration.) If you wish to become Danish, you must attend three years of language classes. You must pass a test on Denmark's history, culture, and a Danish language test . You must live in Denmark for 7 years before applying for citizenship. You must demonstrate an intent to work, and have a job waiting. If you wish to bring a spouse into Denmark, you must both be over 24 years of age, and you won't find it so easy anymore to move your friends and family to Denmark with you. You will not be allowed to build a mosque in Copenhagen. Although your children have a choice of some 30 Arabic culture and language schools in Denmark, they will be strongly encouraged to assimilate to Danish society in ways that past immigrants weren't.

In 2006, the Danish minister for employment, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, spoke publicly of the burden of Muslim immigrants on the Danish welfare system, and it was horrifying: the government's welfare committee had calculated that if immigration from Third World countries were blocked, 75 percent of the cuts needed to sustain the huge welfare system in coming decades would be unnecessary. In other words, the welfare system as it existed was being exploited by immigrants to the point of eventually bankrupting the government. "We are simply forced to adopt a new policy on immigration. The calculations of the welfare committee are terrifying and show how unsuccessful the integration of immigrants has been up to now," he said.

A large thorn in the side of Denmark's imams is the Minister of Immigration and Integration, Rikke Hvilshoj. She makes no bones about the new policy toward immigration, "The number of foreigners coming to the country makes a difference," she¸ says, "There is an inverse correlation between how many come here and how well we can receive the foreigners that come." And on Muslim immigrants needing to demonstrate a willingness to blend in, "In my view, Denmark should be a country with room for different cultures and religions. Some values, however, are more important than others. We refuse to question democracy, equal rights, and freedom of speech."

Hvilshoj has paid a price for her show of backbone. Perhaps to test her resolve, the leading radical imam in Denmark, Ahm ed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, demanded that the government pay blood money to the family of a Muslim who was murdered in a suburb of Copenhagen, stating that the family's thirst for revenge could be thwarted or money. When Hvilshoj dismissed his demand, he argued that in Muslim culture thepayment of retribution money was common, to which Hvilshoj replied that what is done in a Muslim country is not necessarily what is done in Denmark. The Muslim reply came soon after: her house was torched while she, her husband and children slept. All managed to escape unharmed, but she and her family were moved to a secret location and she and other ministers were assigned bodyguards for the first time - in a country where such murderous violence was once so scarce.

Her government has slid to the right, and her borders have tightened. Many believe that what happens in the next decade will determine whether Denmark survives as a bastion of good living, humane thinking and social responsibility, or whether it becomes a nation at civil war with supporters of Sharia law. And meanwhile, Americans clamor for stricter immigration policies, and demand an end to state welfare programs that allow many immigrants to live on the public dole. As we in America look at the enclaves of Muslims amongst us, and see those who enter our shores too easily, dare live on our taxes, yet refuse to embrace our culture, respect our traditions, participate in our legal system, obey our laws, speak our language, appreciate our history . . we would do well to look to Denmark, and say a prayer for her future and for our own.

This is how it looked when I got it, with all that bolding and highlighting.

After I read it, I was unhappy because it seemed totally wrong to me (still does) and the woman who forwarded it to me has forwarded similar things to me in the past.

I wrote her:
Please stop forwarding me e-mails that are meant to scare me into hating a certain group of people.
She wrote back:
I am not sure that was the point of the article. I had the impression that it was geared more towards the need for tighter immigration controls. But, every one gets a different ‘take’ on everything. So I apologize if I’ve offended you, and will try not to let this happen again.
Then I tried to let it go. I know that people get different things out of what they read. I was and English major, after all. I sat and stewed because I thought that she was being blind to the whole thing. I wrote her again:
I wasn’t offended. It takes a lot to offend me. I’m just tired of things reading things that pretend to be a news item reporting about one thing, but is really trying to show how certain groups of people in this world are scary and bad.

The reason I read this "article" as being against a group of people rather about immigration policy is because it focus only on one group of immigrants. I find it hard to believe that only one group of people have immigrated into Denmark or that only that one group isn’t integrating well. I think that if this "article" had really been about immigration policy it would have talked about many different immigrant groups or just focused on the tighter controls that are being put in place.

Maybe it’s just me, though.
Then she wrote an e-mail to all the people she forwarded the original thing to:
A couple of you found this email offensive, and I apologize. I want you all to know that it in no way reflected any personal opinion of mine, and that I understand how some may think of it as racially hateful. Again, I apologize, and will be more careful of controversial content in the future.
Shortly, there was one for me:
Yes, it was biased. Good point.
And that's where it ended. With me and her, at least.

The thing is, I really don't want to believe that there are people who could possible take something like this. Logically, I know that many people would take it at face value, but I don't want it to be like that. I want them to look for the subtle and not so subtle ways they are being manipulated to fear and hate a group of people. I want them to pay attention and think.

They won't, though. That's what scares me.

Also, I don't like the way she wrote "I want you all to know that it in no way reflected any personal opinion of mine, and that I understand how some may think of it as racially hateful." I don't like it because then I don't understand why she sent it. She doesn't randomly forward every bit of crap she gets because sometimes her list is close to forty people and this one was only five people. So, if it doesn't reflect her opinion, why send it?

The world confuses me a little more each day.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

From My MySpace Blog

It's been a long time since such a thing has crossed my path. The stuff in the blockquotes came as a bulletin titled "I had this girl".
I'm the girl who will put her head on your shoulder, not because I'm sleepy, but because I want to be closer to you...
And because you're warm and I'm cold and you really should have noticed on your own and given me your sweatshirt so I wouldn't be so cold anymore.
I'm the girl who likes to be kissed in the rain, more than in an expensive resturant...
Because in the restaurant I'll be eating only a tiny bit of the food I ordered so you don't think I'm a pig and I also won't feel guilty for ordering the most expensive thing. Sure, I'll take the foil swan of leftovers home, but if you don't eat it, I'll just "forget" about it.
I'm the girl who says, "Okay, but you owe me..." jokingly. Not because I actually want something, but because it means I get to spend more time with you and I care...
Also, you fucking owe me and I'll be sure to remind you of how I've never made you pay me back for it every single time I want something from you.
I'm the girl you can take absolutely anywhere and I will have fun because it means I am spending time with you...
Except, I don't want to go most of the places you want to go, so we'll be going to the places I want to go. And if you think it's unfair or your not having fun or your whining, I'll remind you of that time I told you that you owe me, but I never called you on it, even though I could have so many times before.
I'm the girl who is incredibly picky, but when I find someone I like I want to spend the whole night curled up in their arms...
And I promise that some of those nights, you'll be that someone.
I'm the girl who never forgets all the sweet little things you do for me...
But I won't ever bring them up. And if you ever thing of talking about them to me, I'll start talking about all the times you screwed up, and, trust me, there are more screw ups than sweet little things.
I'm the girl who once I let you into my heart, there's always a place there with your name on it. And even if we spend time apart, I'm the girl who never forgets you..
And I'll remind every single guy I'm with after you of just how great you were and how they just can't compare in the slightest. That way, they'll come to resent you more than me. :)
I'm the girl who loves to end a hug with a kiss..
It's a great way to distract you and if I get a little grabby, even better.
I'm the girl who you can talk to about anything..
And the next time I go out with my friends, they'll hear all about it.
I'm the girl who laughs at your jokes...
Even though their not funny, that way you won't ever notice how unsure I am about where this relationship is going and if I want to stick around and who's going to end it first because I don't want to be the bitch in this situation.
I'm the girl who will brag about you to all of my friends...
Especially when we get into a who-has-the-worst-guy-a-thon.
I'm the girl who will always listen to you talk...
Well, I'll pretend to listen. In my head I'm really listing the things I need to get ready for tomorrow and trying to figure out who I want to go out with this weekend.
I'm the girl who loves it when you hug me for no apparent reason...
I'll let you know when it is not okay to hug me for no apparent reason, but if you don't know on your own when it is okay, then we may have a problem.
I'm the girl who loves it when you hug me from behind
Except when you get grabby and I'm not in the mood or there isn't anyone around that we can make jealous.
or kiss me on the forehead...
Just like Daddy does.
I'm the girl who loves the feeling when you take me by the hand without saying a word...
Unless it's at the wrong time, but I won't tell you that you were wrong until a few days later when I can really get things off my chest.
I'm the girl who loves you and accepts you for you, and doesn't care what other people say...
Except, of course, for the things you do that I don't like you doing. As long as you're a good boy, though, and change for me in the ways my friends suggest, I don't care what other people say and I'll love you for who I want you to be.
SWEET HEARTED GIRLS : If you are this girl repost this saying "I'm the girl"

DUDES: If you want this girl repost "I want this Girl"

LUCKY GUYS: repost "I have this girl"

UNLUCKY GUYS: repost "I had this girl"
HORRIBLE HARPIES: If you think guys should want real women repost this saying "Get a Fucking Life, Assholes"

REGULAR GUYS: repost "I Just Want to Get Laid"

In Response To...

For some reason, I can't bring myself to post this as a comment on her blog, but after seeing her latest post I couldn't help but wonder:

Anyone else want some milk?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Spatters on a Window

I leave work early today and may, if I can get the note thingy, be doing this every Tuesday for the next 12-16 weeks. Although with Christmas and New Year's Day landing on a Tuesday this year, one or two of those days may be on Wednesday instead.

In other news, there's not much to write.

The weather is drizzly. It looks more like fog than clouds, but it's clouds. And the temperature is warmer than it was last week.

Not one of the clerks has gone to lunch yet. Does that mean that from 1:00 to 1:30 there won't be anyone in the front office?

I've fallen way behind on e-mails. Not that I have many e-mails, ever. Still, some have sat there more than a month waiting for a response. I'm tired of trying to find new ways of saying that what I'm doing hasn't changed/isn't changing to the same people over and over. It's not fair to them because it probably comes out sounding like whining when it's just the truth and shouldn't be read with any sort of emotion behind it.

Inspiration. I don't understand it. If a person feels inspired, shouldn't that person want to create right away? Why then do so many people claim they feel inspired by something, but don't create anything?

I read through the most recent issue of Madman last night. It's a really good, really odd comic book. It made me wish I could draw.

Monday, December 03, 2007

News to Report!

Well, no, not really.

When I went to Wal*Mart on Sunday, I didn't buy the thing I went there for. I don't remember my reasoning, either. I bought the other things I needed. (And I actually stayed away from the DVDs, so I only bought stuff that I actually needed to keep the apartment in its semi-clean status and to keep my car running, instead of something that I'd just really like to have, but don't necessarily even want.)

I wish I could remember why.

It wasn't expensive, either. Just $30-$40 and I was expecting to spend more than $50.


I mailed off my dad's birthday present today. It's very, very and a half late. His birthday was in September. I forgot it at Thanksgiving, but it's on its way now, that's good.

My brother birthday present was sent today, too. His birthday is in a week, but I probably would have forgotten to send it on time, like our mom will, and the I'd have to make sure to remember to get it and his Christmas present and his girlfriend/fiancée's Christmas present to our parents so they can get everything to them during the week after. Now I have one less thing to remember.

Do you want to know the worst thing about the "holiday season"?
Twice, in just over four weeks, I have to come back here.