terribleturnip: (percy)
So, last week I was talking to a friend about a writer and we’re talking about how this author writes a lot of stuff, but it’s sort of formulaic, same story, over and over again, just with different circumstances and locations. I allowed that I’m much more tolerant of that in a movie than I am in a book and that conversations been mulling around in my brain in case I want to develop a writing on what amuses me, where my standards for entertainment lie, etc.

And then on Friday, a colleague asked me what I was doing this weekend and I said “well, Friday night I’ll relax a bit and decorate the Christmas tree. Saturday is some last minute shopping, making cookie doughs, beginning to wrap presents and then a lovely date with the Consort. Sunday will be cookie baking and more present wrapping, packing suitcases, cleaning out the car and then packing it for the holiday trip. Then quiet sobbing on the couch as I realize that it’s 4pm on Sunday and haven’t gotten half of that done. Followed by saying “Expletive it” and cracking open a bottle of wine.”

That would be the moment when I realized: I am living a formulaic life.

Standards

Aug. 26th, 2015 03:45 pm
terribleturnip: (percy)
One of my colleagues has a beautifully printed sign in her cube that reads:

Today, Practice Excellence.

I have a post-it note slapped across my calendar that says:

Today, (although then I scratched it out and wrote "This Week" because by Tuesday morning I could tell how the week was going to go down.)

Finish RFP analysis
Send out Customer notification
Don't swear out loud
Tell Supplier the product can't ship yet, they have to store it.
Don't kill anyone
Draft laundry bag contract
Take a walk instead of buying Cheez-Its.
Order samples for Customer to-go program
Draft plastic and paper cost forecasts
Buy case of wine; don't forget coupon.

She's fairly new. I like to think that after eight years, she'll be worn down, too.
terribleturnip: (percy)
Dear Restaurant Name Redacted,

I don’t often order salads unless I’m at a decent restaurant…I struggle conceptually with going through the whole process of ordering and paying for what is essentially a bowl of lettuce, with some stuff on it. Often stuff like croutons, tortilla strips, fried chicken and creamy dressings that make the damn thing almost as high calorie as a burger, but much, much less satisfying. Something I could easily make at home for much less money. After all, a mediocre burger is still a burger. Romaine lettuce, plastic tomatoes, giant ass croutons, some shredded carrot and overcooked strips of fried chicken is a travesty of vegetable.

But okay, sometimes you make it interesting – oooh, a little grilled chicken (that I know you grilled yourself, recently), avocado, black beans, corn, red cabbage? And I can dress it with salsa instead of whatever you might be calling dressing? Cool!

And I’ll freely admit, now that I’ve eaten it, it wasn’t bad. But a few things. When I said “no onions, no tortilla chips”, what I meant by that was well, no onions or tortilla chips. That’s why I said it. So they wouldn’t be in there. And seriously, you could be a little more generous with the avocado…after all, fat delivers flavor. But maybe that’s my fault for not using your dressing, but mango salsa instead.

But dudes and dudettes…the lettuce. Look, okay, the jicama, the peppers, the chicken, I get the aesthetics of leaving them in long strips that require a knife to cut up. But seriously, the size of these lettuce pieces! When you make a salad, you want to look down and think, hmm, could I get these pieces in my mouth easily, without leaving dressing (or salsa) all over the sides of my face?

I think the answer is “no, no, I can’t, so I should be making them smaller.”

Unless, of course, Restaurant Name Redacted hires a lot of line cooks with jaws that unhinge.
 
terribleturnip: (percy)
So, right, 52 years old now. (There seems to be a disconnect between my actual birthday and when the Facebook universe thinks my birthday is, so if you’re confused because you thought it happened before the internet did, that just means you remembered correctly.)

I remember when my father was this old and thinking “wow, that’s really old”. It’s not…certainly not when  you’re the one who’s 52, but I think it’s important to remember that to the vast majority of twenty somethings you are, indeed, at least a preliminary geezer.

It was awful at the office that day, with everyone wishing me happy birthday. Ugh. Not that I’m one of those “I don’t celebrate my birthday because I don’t want to think about getting older” people.  Really, it just seems silly to me to be celebrating an event that you basically just showed up for. Although I suppose at this age, I could look at it as an achievement – hey, I’m still here! I made it this far without doing anything so stupid it killed me. Even though I may have pushed that limit from time to time…..
For me, a birthday is mostly an excuse to be self-indulgent – I’m going to do what I want, eat what I want, buy some small things that aren’t critical, or splurge on something I was going to get anyway, but now I’ll get the upgraded version because Birthday!

But what I hate about it, honestly is all of the people wishing me happy birthday. Third person – e-mail, cards, that’s fine. But in person? Ugh.  And FB seems to be right on the edge of third person and in person, as there’s always someone wishing me happy birthday that I don’t actually know all that well. Seriously, I could die in front of you on the street and you might not recognize me, but you’re going to wish me happy birthday because you saw it on the internet? I don’t even remember who the hell you are! (Which also makes me feel guilty and like a bad person….like I need more of that!)

But all of that focus. On me. For something that I can’t take credit for or be proud of. It gets right under my Extrovert outer coating and scrapes up all against my inner Introvert. That’s a thinner shell than most people realize. It’s just really, really shiny.

I think it’s because I just don’t know what to say beyond “oh, thanks!”  And by the 15th time I’ve had that exchange, my essential Curmudgeon (I’m a Smith Island cake…more layers than any person or pastry should have) is all “jeebus, this is a lot of wasted time and conversation”.  (For the record, birthday wishes from actual friends are very sweet and appreciated!)

And at work it’s the worst – I have all sorts of accomplishments here at work – saved the client an extra 15%, fixed a compliance issue and bam, another $300K in volume,  found a suspicious void in the reporting, oh, hey, there’s another $40K to our bottom line. And mostly I get a “oh, hey, that’s great!” and we move on, maybe I’ve got one more piece of evidence for my annual review. But a birthday and whoo-hoo, congratulatory e-mails, birthday wishes from half the office, my team gets together to give me a cake. It’s ludicrous! And sort of sums up what’s wrong with most organizations – rewarding the wrong damn things. Sigh. 
terribleturnip: (percy)
Whew, that was a close call. I thought they’d discontinued my mascara. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but that would have been on top of my pantyhose brand being discontinued just two weeks ago.
Which is a HUGE HAIRY EXPLETIVE deal.

See, my life is a bit overfull. I don’t just burn the candle at both ends. It’s also on fire in the middle. And I have a ton of friends telling me to slow the hell down, relax more. While I would agree that perhaps a 10-15% reduction would be wise, I haven’t figured out where to cut that yet.
Speaking of cuts... )
In the meantime, you need to remember this about the overfull: it’s mostly filled with awesome and that makes it hard to cut…and even the hard parts are inseparably attached to the awesomeness. And, secondly, there’s something wrong with me, something we can’t figure out, that sometimes makes it really painful to just move. Hey, maybe we’ll figure it out, or maybe it will be just at this level for the rest of my life, which sucks but is bearable. But if it gets worse as I age, there may come a time, sooner for me than for others, where I CAN’T do any of these awesome things. So, really, expletive you and your “you need to slow down”. No, not really, you mean well and it’s out of love and care. I get that. But seriously, I have Reasons. I’m only listening to people who are really close and understand the equation I’m working with.

Anyway, in order to cram in that much stuff, there are behaviors I’ve adopted to manage the chaos and strip time out of little things. Color coded folders to help me find stuff faster. Always cooking for four people or more, so that I can have a freezer full of single servings that I can mix and match. Carrying a box of office supplies in the car – binder clips, envelopes, stamps, sharpies, etc., so that I can manage paperwork anywhere. Always having a couple of extra twenties in the car so that I never have to detour to an ATM or keep driving to another station because I’ve landed at the one gas station that only takes cash. Once a year, buying a case of my favorite Provencal soap. Buying a case of 3M toilet scrubs at a time. And being fiercely, obsessively, brand loyal.

I find the brand that works best/is best/tastes best and that is the brand I buy. Always. I don’t give a rat’s ass whether it’s on sale or not, or whether there’s a coupon or sale on a different brand. Scott Towels, Charmin Basic Toilet Paper, Muir Glen or Red Pack tomatoes, etc. Whatever brand I’ve landed on, if it’s on sale, I buy a ton of it, as much as I can store, assuming it’s non-perishable. If it’s not, I buy just what I need.

My goal is to waste less time thinking/deciding/running out to the store. I buy that case of soap and then don’t have to think about soap until next year. Never have to remember to buy it, think about what scents, I’m done until I get down to the second to last bar, when I log on and cause more to show up. Oh, sure, if see a fancy, schmancy soap that’s appealing, I’ll certainly pick it up and give it a try. But I don’t HAVE to. Back when I bought soap once at a time, it was always “oh, do I want rose or lavender, what does this grapefruit one smell like?” Is that a lot of time for each thought “transaction”? No, of course, not. But it adds up. 12 a year, on just soap bars. If I think of my time as being worth money, a habit I got into when running my own business, then if it took me a minute to think through soaps each time, let’s say my free time is worth $20/hour – you may say “oh, hey, it should be worth more than that!” – but I say if I value it too high, then watching a movie on television starts to sound like a very expensive waste of time, so that’s just where I landed. Anyway, that’s $4 a year thinking about soap. Big deal? Nope. But if I invested that kind of time in thinking about whether with the coupon that brand was cheaper, or well that one’s more expensive but it does a better job and I’ll use less…Shudder.

Do NOT have that kind of time. Or, have way better things to do with my time. Mind you, you may enjoy that process – have at it! There are far stupider things I ditz around on, but the ditzing there makes me happy. Having to find a new brand/type of sneaker, or bra, or pantyhose, or paper towel, makes me crazy.

Which is why a product discontinuation unglues me so. Augh, I have to THINK about it again? Not only were these the first comfortable pantyhose I’d ever worn in my entire life, but I’d even fallen into a pattern where about every two months, about when I’d be doing the wash and notice that I was now down to six pairs (although not really a pair since that’s stockings, but “a pantyhose” just sounds wrong) and BINK, sit down at the computer, three minutes later, another six pairs would be on the way. I could have gone on like that FOREVER, my friends. But nooooooooooo, Spanx decided to stop making Assets brand pantyhose.

And now I have to start from scratch – buying other brands, guessing at what size I wear, trying to decide if they’re uncomfortable because I’ve got the wrong size, or if they’re inherently uncomfortable.

I know, you’re thinking, okay, really, you’re being a bit whiny. If you’re thinking that, you’re either a man or a woman who never wears them. Or maybe you’re just one of those women who falls perfectly within a size. Well, lemme tell ya, brothers and sisters, it ain’t that easy when you’re only 5’5” and weigh 200+ pounds, which means you fall on the borderline of every sizing chart in pantyhose land. Regular size, if they’re not quite long enough, in trying to pull them up, I’m totally going to spike a hole in them with a thumbnail. Oh, let me get the next size up, for taller girls. Oh, now I’ve got yards of fabric all bunched up around my thighs. Oh, THAT’S comfy!

So, off to Queen-Size I go. The problem is, those suckers stretch in all directions. While my thighs are indeed significant, apparently not as significant as you would expect on someone my height and weight. So, with Queen size, I tend to wind up with not only bunches of fabric on my thighs sometimes also my ankles. And you can’t try these suckers on ahead of time – nope, you just have to plop down your dough and give them a whirl. Grrrr.

It’s almost enough to make me wear pants all of the time. But then I’d have to find pants that fit me….
terribleturnip: (percy)
Dear Work, I've been here for six and a half years now. I'm really grateful for the award, really, I am. But that you spelled my name wrong on the award...I dunno, kind of takes some of the shine off of it.

Dear Fluorescent bulb above my head, Hey, could you blink while I'm looking at you and not wait until I've finally lowered my head to get back to work? You're making me nuts. And my neck hurts from trying to catch you. Although blinking when I blink? Clever bulb.

Dear Facebook, in the however many years I've been on you, have I ever played a game? No, no, I haven't. As a matter of fact, I've spent a significant amount of time blocking other people and their games from my feed. Refusing invitations. Yet daily, you suggest games I might like. I don't expletive LIKE games (unless they're in person and face to face), so put that in your damn algorithm and smoke it! Also, seriously, remember that I would PAY to be able to tweak my feed to block the ten thousand so-and-so just wished you-know-who "Happy Birthday" messages that show up on my feed every day. Your stocks are falling...I'm just saying you should think about that.

Dear Montgomery County, I'm pleased to tell you that despite all of this rain, my basement is bone dry. No more water seeping up from the foundation, no water just shooting out of the sides of the walls like some kind of crazy concealed jet spray. Ever since you fixed the storm drain and put curbs on the street one over, not a single flood! But now I'm pretty damn bitter about the days I've spent shop-vac'cing the basement, the mold remediation, the ruined possessions, the need to invest in plastic shelving and ten thousand plastic bins to keep everything in. Because if you'd just fixed it when it needed it...

Alternatively, there's actually a nascent sinkhole underneath my house, and THAT'S where all the water is going. Which might explain last night's nightmares.

Although those nightmares might also be explained by having three cats that insist on sleeping on the bed with me, one who randomly sneezes on me, one who sneaks up to lie on my head, which would be fine, if only he didn't keep sticking his foot in my eye, and another one that looms over me and purrs HARD, inches from my face. It's like sleeping with the low rent version of the Seven Dwarves.
terribleturnip: (percy)
So, reading with interest the new plan Amazon’s got to eventually deliver packages with drones. Please oh, please, let this plan not ever come to fruition while I still walk the earth. I’d have to wear a helmet every time I left the house. Avoidance subroutines, schmubroutines, have you MET me? Or read this blog? I do a daily dance of death with my cats in the kitchen, hallways and living room as both of our avoidance subroutines clash and conflict. My brain and spotty synapses can circumvent any logical and effective avoidance programming on this earth. Let me show you the scars on my ankles from the Roomba. I’d come out of the house and there’d be the drone headed for my door, all peaceably like. And we’d be fine. Except then while I was looking at the drone, I’d accidentally step into MommaCat’s water bowl, lose my balance and lurch to the side, which the drone would niftily dodge. Except nothing in its programming could possibly anticipate that I’d over-compensate for falling, and come lurching back in the other direction, which the drone would just barely adjust for…but then be doomed when I bounced off the railing (do everything with maximum force is my motto) and came back again and then, well, it’s hair full of rotors, isn’t it?

I’m just bummed that it’s in the news now. Because if this were right before Halloween, I’d have drones caught in the giant spiderweb, being eaten by carnivorous plants, being grabbed by the giant Chicken man, a heap of them smouldering, courtesy of dry ice, in the birdbath, carefully watched by bird skeletons, impaled on tombstones, caught in ghost tendrils….and I, of course, would be dressed as a this decade’s Tippi Hedren. (Look it up children, Tippi Birds Hitchcock)

I am no more competent when it comes to passwords. For starters, my fingertips have some property that not only makes them pretty non-reactive to touch screens – seriously, my future will include surgery to insert conductive chips in my fingertips so that I can continue to function in a touchscreen world – but also eats away at the letters on a keyboard. M, N, V, and B are particularly vulnerable. And you can probably tell right away, that any temporary password I’m going to get includes….MNVB in some combination. As a touch typist, albeit one that yes, can type without looking at the keyboard, but engages the backspace key and retypes probably half the letters struck, I suppose that would be the idiot-savant version of touch typist – I can mistype and retype words very quickly. Typing them correctly in the first place? Not likely. So, to address this password problem, where you really can’t engage your touch typist brain. (Well, I can’t. I type words, not letters and have no idea what my fingers are doing really.) But when I look down to hunt and peck, hmm, all of these blank keys….but hey, I engaged the big brain and viola! I printed out an image of a keyboard and keep that tucked underneath the real one. Ha! So, there.

(Please note, viola, as opposed to voila, is purposeful. Because it’s funny. Typed. Not spoken. Trust me on this one.)

So, you want to know why I deserve a medal right? )

Last Words

Nov. 27th, 2013 11:55 am
terribleturnip: (percy)
I'm posting these random bits because for four days I've had a headache on one side of my skull that is probably NOT the same thing as having a spike driven through it, but in my weaker moments, I liken it to that. At one point, when it started, I was laying down and it woke me up and I thought, ah, I'd better not stand up. What if it's a blood clot and I shake it loose and then it hits my heart and BAM, dead. I should just lay here and maybe...I dunno, it might dissolve? And, as queen of the glass half empty, but also empress of WASPY worrying about things that really don't matter, I started worrying. I should leave a note so people know where to find things like bank accounts and insurance. Hmm, the litter box isn't very clean and that'll be problematic. Did I leave something upstairs on the nightstand that should probably be put away, in case my mother's the next person in here? I should put more cat food in the bowl so they don't have empty stomachs and start nibbling on me too quickly. Or text a neighbor and ask her to check up on me if my car's still in the driveway tomorrow afternoon. And as seriously worried as I was about standing up and shaking DEATHCLOT free, I got up anyway because damn the litterbox really did need cleaning, and I had to pee. And I lived. But now it's three days later and it still hurts and I'm stuck in the conundrum of "if I go see a doctor, it will be NOTHING and I'll have to feel embarrassed for not being able to ride out a little headache" or "No one will know what it is, and after dozens of tests and shrugged shoulders, I'll just have to learn to live with it, which I should have done in the first place". OR, blow it off and drop dead over Thanksgiving weekend. So, I'm going to the doctor, but just to cover all pessimistic bases, I didn't want these gems to linger in my drafts folder. (Don't worry, I'll totally live. How could I die, knowing that these were my last words? Seriously.)

Cut for length, 'cause I do go on, even with stabbing head pains )
terribleturnip: (The Boys)
Please note, this isn't me looking for sympathy - you have to remember that this is really just a touch worse than I'm used to. But I thought I'd make you feel better about whatever expletive you're going through. None of this is tragic or insurmountable or even all that awful. It's just the CONGREGATION of it all that's making me wonder just what the hell I did in my last life that I need to take such a pecking to death by ducks in this one.

See, unlike last Halloween when I thought I was going to have all sorts of help, but thanks to a hurricane, and other issues, wound up not having much help until last minute (which was much appreciated), THIS year, I had all sorts of help. Which was great. I was pretty psyched about it.

(If you don't know, Halloween to me is a four hour event that involves both a party for my friends in the side yard/cemetery, and closing the street down, decorating all the houses and hosting about 3,000 visitors. 2,000 pieces of candy. It's a little intense.)

But the universe hates it when I feel relaxed, so on Monday said "heh, here, here's the plague. See how smooth it goes when you feel like carp." But I thought, okay, fine, I'm just going to scale back some of the preparations, make sure I get plenty of sleep, and thank goodness I have lots of help and don't have to freak out."

And the universe stomped its tiny feet and clenched its little fists (I know, right, FREAKISHLY little appendages on that universe. ::shudder::) and said "FINE. Let's clog the hell out of your kitchen pipes so that the downstairs sink overflows all over the basement and you can't use your dishwasher and will only be able to wash a couple of dishes at a time before you have to run downstairs and bail out the downstairs sink. Oh, and no, I have NO idea where your shop vac is." humming a little ha-ha tune,

But okay, fine, so that's a pain in the neck, let me add "plumber" on the list, right between distribute tombstones and finish painting carnivorous plant. But okay, I can deal.

And I was grossed out to find that I had a rat infestation out in the shed and that rats had nested in the other carnivorous plant prop. But okay, I have a new one this year and I'll just replace this one next year. I can use it and then throw it out. And clean up all the rat, er, mess, in the shed, thanking the gods for Nature's Miracle: it's not just for dog and cat urine. And the raccoon poop all over a bunch of the tombstone stakes, eh, that'll hose off. And I didn't even freak out when I started pulling props out of the basement and found that in THERE, I have a mouse infestation and they'd been nibbling on back-up candy and several of the freaky dried squash I put out on Lovecraft's Produce Stand (It's Fresh Enough for You). Well, that sucks I thought, I HATE killing things, but once you move inside my house and start pooping on things, well, you've violated our "live and let live" contract and now we're done. Well, YOU'RE done. But okay, put out snap traps, good to go.

And yes, it was made more complicated by the fact that the light in the Halloween storage room was on the fritz,shorting out, so I had to use a lantern or flashlight to find things. And during the day I had to take a break to set an appointment for them to come and replace the defective coil on my heat pump. And yep, the rain was NOT going to hold off, so there was a good chance that it would rain during the event and a 100% chance it would rain later that night, so that meant hauling in all the props that couldn't take an all night soaking.

But okay. The last straw was when munching a quick snickers bar while running around setting everything up, my bridge came loose and suddenly I had teeth roaming around my mouth and had to run into the bathroom and reset it, which isn't easy, and then remember to NOT chew anything on that side of my mouth...because you know, I nothing else on my mind.

THAT Universe, THAT was expletive EGREGIOUS.
terribleturnip: (percy)
So this morning I was running a load of laundry upstairs and managed to run the corner of the laundry basket into the door frame, which shot the opposite corner straight into my gut, which knocked me off balance to such as extent that I slammed the opposite shoulder into the other side of the door frame. Note to self: set up nannycams all over your house, because if expletive like this is going to happen…and hurt so much…you should at least be capturing footage so you can bring joy to the rest of the world.

Yesterday, I went over to my admin’s cube to see if she had a spare binder and while I was talking to her about the relative merits of the various binders…blame my job, things aren’t just THINGS anymore to me; it’s all PRODUCT…she got a quizzical look on her face and said “Umm.” And I was till rattling about binders and she pointed to my arm and said “UMMM.” So, I looked and there’s blood running down my arm, dripping onto the floor. I guess I got a little aggressive with that mosquito bite. Now I’m going to have to write two reviews for her. The real one and one where I “coach” her on the proper way to handle someone who’s bleeding all over your cube…like maybe “hey, stop bleeding on my floor!”

So the shoulder bruise, gut bruise and now bandaid on my arm go nicely with the forehead bruise, which is thankfully right above my hairline. You know, right about where a station wagon rear hatch clocks you when its hydraulics start to go and the door now doesn’t fully open unless you push it all the way up. It happens to all my cars. I’m kryptonite to those damn lift support things. And I can’t seem to remember to push it open all the way until I smack my head into it. Although to be fair, the repeated head injuries are probably not helping with the memory thing.

This afternoon is our community service day – where our department goes someplace to help out a charitable organization. And instead of doing fun outdoor activities like raking, weeding, cleaning out old barns/sheds, minor carpentry, which is what we used to do for a historical site, now we go to a place where we fill bags with an assortment of food/snacks so that underprivileged kids have food on weekends. Which is worthy…and appeals to my colleagues who used to complain about the other work being “too hard, too hot, too dirty.” If you know me at all, you can just imagine what I think about those complaints. Ahem. Although it did help me to sort out which of my colleagues will become jerky right away if the zombies come while I’m at work and we have to be holed up here for a while. Yep, I’ve already sorted out who’s NOT going to be wasting the limited food and water supplies. Although some of the slightly more energetic ones I may hang on to for a while just in case I need chain them to something as bait to distract the zombies while I escape.

Anyway, instead we’ll go to this place and fill plastic sacks with food…and I’ll have to bite my tongue because I’ll immediately spot how it could be made much more efficient. And then get frustrated with colleagues who can’t even handle THIS simple task without whining. And then sit through the prayer at the end where the very nice woman who runs the group thanks God for sending us to help the kids. And I will bite my tongue, because again, it’s a great cause and I’m so glad this woman is devoting her life to making sure these kids have a fighting chance, but seriously, lady, you can thank my company for choosing to value this sort of experience, you can thank me for showing up and working, and you can thank our suppliers who are donating some of the food, but seriously, if God took the time to make us show up or want to do this? Maybe he should use that time to fix these poor kids’ lives in the first place. Fix what’s broken so they don’t wind up hungry in the first place.

Anyway, off that soapbox that I clamber onto. I probably wouldn’t care, but that damn prayer is twenty minutes long, and I’ve heard it three times already. I usually throw in a non-work supported day to help them do food pickups and thankfully I just get a quick hug and a “praise the Lord for sending you to us” which is more manageable.

Work has been less than fun lately, but I did get charged with sourcing some products for a large customer, which led me to watertight, disposable, eco-friendly ice buckets and coolers, many of them made of cardboard. And you know if you can make a quick assembly cardboard waterproof cooler, you know what else you can make that needs to be very, very, securely waterproof?

Yes, disposable coffins! (You know, so that you actually return to the earth if they bury you, as opposed to slowly creepily mummifying and then maybe decay over decades, assuming the seals on the casket give way. Or, if you’re going to be cremated and you’re like hey, let’s not waste a lot of money on a wooden box we’re just going to set on fire. )

And there are all sorts of basic ones, and nice ones…and then I found a company that almost makes me regret my decision to not have any kind of service or viewing. Because I so want all you expletives to show up at a funeral parlor, walk into the somber viewing room and see THIS bad boy:
http://www.creativecoffins.com/coffins/peas/

I know, RIGHT? Be sure to check out the other ones…and yes, you can get them customized…so I dunno, maybe a female Viking…

Although I’m also thinking the popcorn box and have the coffin rigged with sound so that halfway through some damn weepy eulogy, you start hearing popping noises from inside the coffin.
terribleturnip: (percy)
So Jasper, my big long hair brown tabby, he of the giant fangs and once sumptuous ridiculous tail, so long and flowing haired that he couldn’t even get it to stand up straight, without it curling flirtatiously into an S…the tail never having quite been the same once he set it on fire by sticking it in a candle flame…my once incredibly spooky ex-feral who is now madly in love with any human and thinks a trip to the vet’s is just another opportunity to find new people to flirt with, is in for dental surgery today. He’s had nasal discharge for quite some time and we’ve run through a laundry list of “what could it be’s” and are now down to abscessed canines, which we’re guessing at, but he’s got to go under to find out, so today is either just a teeth cleaning or pulling the canines. I never thought I’d be crossing my fingers that I get a $900 vet bill today (assuming both teeth, possibly some adjoining need to come out) but a smaller bill means we still don’t know what’s wrong with him, or more likely, that it’s WORSE and either something involving nasal cavity surgery or terminal. I’m trying not to worry, but doing a craptastic job of that. Also, watching the last episode of Season 1 of the UK version of Being Human last night, which is essentially a montage of “good-byes”…given my mental state and general allergic reaction to “good-byes”, if by “allergic” I mean “uncontrollable sobbing”, was probably a bad idea.

And then it was a rough morning in the household. Jasper had to fast, which meant everyone had to fast. Well, not me, I have opposable thumbs, but heaven knows I probably could have used a bit of a fast. Puskin, aka ThudChincillaSpawnofSatan, a cat who is way smarter than any cat ever should be, you should thank me that I neutered him and am not now breeding our new Overlords, is self-appointed guardian of the food bowl. When the dry food bowl runs low, he follows me around the house meowing until I make eye contact, and then he meows urgently and bolts in the direction of the food bowl. He will keep this up for hours. And that’s just if it’s running low. Empty is a whole ‘nother level of panic.

So, I had a restful night, being woken up several times by him pawing my face and meowing. “Hey, hey, hey, Mom, Mom, Mom. The food bowl is empty. Empty! Did you know? You must not know or you would totally fill it. Mom. Mom. Mom. Hey, Mom.”

By morning, he was in frenzy, throwing himself against the door, while I was taking a shower, following me around, dashing to the food bowl, waiting for a few minutes and then trotting back up to wherever I was to start again. (Pushkin trots like this “Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud.” If Carl Sandburg had known Pushkin, he would have had to come up with an entirely different analogy, because if fog came creeping like Pushkin, it would HURT.

Plus, low blood sugar combined with nervousness that FoodProvider had suffered some kind of brain injury was making both Spike and Mouse itchy and irritable, so they were arguing. If by “arguing” I mean that Mouse was being bitchy and Spike would lash out at her and she would fall on her side (she’s really fat) and scream bloody murder, repeatedly. Which would make me scream at Spike to knock it the hell off…and as soon as I got the two of them broken up and settled, there’d be Pushkin ready to start up again “heyheyheyheyMomFoodBowl.”

Almost a relief to get to work. Almost. Then I realize that it’s just like my morning at home, only with a little less adorable.

Update: They've already finished with him and there's nothing wrong with his teeth, so, yay, back to square one! (I don't know if you heard the beep-beep-beep sound of the Sarcasm Dumptruck backing in...) Which means we're back to: nope, no idea what's going on and not really sure what to try next. For the record, this is the fourth vet who was pretty darn sure that THIS was what his problem is. So far we're 0 for 0. Which means, sigh, time for me to become the expert on cat snot. Awesome.
terribleturnip: (percy)
Lest you think I'm all sweetness and light, thanks to spring....

I stopped blogging about the weight loss contest, simply because I ran out of time/energy/mojo to blog about anything. But here, I don't want you to think I'm hiding anything from you. Five weeks, four pounds and change lost. And then I think two came back the week after.

Note to self: working on opening a renaissance faire, planning a major familial event, a sinus infection, being covered in hives...and then the allergic reaction to the hives themselves, plus having to make an end of life decision for a pet, and lend support to two other people going through that themselves...not conducive to losing weight. Since my weight-loss plan mostly consists of cutting back on alcohol and girding my mental armor so that I don't eat for stupid reasons like stress or comfort.

When you're whole body itches, you've got a deadline on submitting menu to the caterer, and you're putting off calling the vet to make a euthanasia appointment, "Now, you really shouldn't have a bag of Cheez-It's, you're not even hungry. Why don't you have an apple, instead?" doesn't fly. Expletive you! Now I'm going to have TWO bags.

But okay, every day is another chance to do better. And here I am, having been successful at cutting my Diet Mountain Dew consumption in half, and having had only vegetables today and as long as I don't kill anyone because of it, I might be back on the wagon, sans peer pressure, hives and a lot of the other stuff. Or not. This time of year I'm so busy that there's little room in my head for worrying about it.

Hey, remember when I said I couldn't complain about hot flashes because I was only having relatively minor symptoms? Yeah, apparently my hypothalamus took that for gauntlet-throwing, because, although the frequency is down, the intensitity is up. Yeah, full out dripping with sweat. I can't even begin to tell you how awesome that is. I can't, because it's NOT. I'm just glad that we know the risks of hormone replacement therapy so that I don't have to make the ethical decision about whether I can live with doing that to a horse. I'm spinning it this way: yet another excuse for irascibility. I'm sorry, I can't HEAR you, I'm sweating too loudly.

But hey, I also get to feel small, whiney, and selfish, because there's a species of aphid that when they hit menopause, instead of making eggs, they now secrete a sticky substance and if a predator threatens their family group of aphids...the grandma aphids throw their bodies at the predator, superglueing themselves to it until it leaves or dies. How awesome is that? This article is more about the possible evolutionary reason for menopause to have survived as a trait, but has the neat facts about the Superglue Grandma aphids in it.
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/18/why-menopause/

That's what keeps me cheery -- superglue-y grandma aphids. Learning that fruitbats perform oral sex on each other. That when you tickle rats, they make ultrasonic noises that are identical to the sounds young rats make when they're playing with each other. So, you could say, really, that rats laugh when you tickle them. Take THAT, "humans are the only animals that laugh" proponents.

Plus, I thought I was beside myself with joy when I learned that there was actually a fish called the Sarcastic Fringehead. Then I saw what it looked like:

http://io9.com/5911216/meet-the-sarcastic-fringehead-an-oddly-named-fish-who-looks-like-the-predator

Whatever else that's going on in your life that's sad, bad or otherwise sapping, there is a fish that can do THAT. And that's enough awesomeness to carry you for a couple of hours, isn't it?
terribleturnip: (percy)
I know, I know. Where the hell have I been?

Vacation. Coming home sick. Spraining my ankle. Staying sick. Getting antibiotics. Having an allergic reaction to antibiotics. Having a further allergic reaction to my allergic reaction.

Every post I started was just a giant whine. I couldn’t manage to drive the whine someplace funny, or thought provoking, just farther into the territory of Pathetic. Which made me feel even more pathetic. And laboring under a double dose of Benadryl and every other antihistamine the doctor and I could think of….I felt as if I had a glimmer of what my friends who suffer from bipolar disorder and similar disorders complain about, that slight fog, wrapped in cotton, vaguely muffled, non-creative and apathetic. And then I looked at the calendar and realized that I’ve been sick or broken or both since March 5th. And that was depressing and I wallowed in the bathtub of self-pity for a while.

But I lack depressive stamina, and thankfully my apathetic fog is medication induced and the downside of stopping the meds is just wanting to flay the skin off my body with scratching. I can bear it a bit and harness what little part of my brain that’s not involved in the “oh, god, oh, god it itches, it itches, DON’T SCRATCH, DON’T SCRATCH, oh please just a little gentle, I won’t use my fingernails, promise” sarabande.

So right, here’s the problem: I’m allergic to my own allergic reactions. Specifically histamine. I started with genuine hives from the antibiotic. And they did start to subside when the antibiotics finally flushed out. But it was too late. Too itchy for too long, too much mindless scratching. Every time I scratch, my cells release histamine. My immune system goes “AUAHAHHA, HISTAMINE, PANIC, I’M GOING TO DEAL WITH THIS BY BECOMING INFLAMED…and itchy…and flood you with MORE HISTAMINE” My immune system is a 13 year old girl in the front row of a Justin Beiber concert. In a tizzy, personified.

So, the hives are all gone, but now half my body is covered in what I call firerash. It manages to combine itchy with a slight burning sensation. It’s expletive awesome. Because antihistamines, astringent dressings, soakings and rum aside (the rum is my own prescription, feeling the need for a wee bit of devil-may-care, which rum is great for), I’m still covered in rash, I still itch all over the place and while it’s gradually receding…it’s doing so at glacial speed. Pre-global warming glaciers, that is. And I’m planning a big surprise party and two critters near and dear to my heart just died, and I’m so far behind at work, it’s all I can do to not hyperventilate myself into a vapor cloud. (Thankfully the Benadryl helps with that.)

But who cares, it’s spring, it’s spring, it’s spring and I’m surrounded by antidotes – that certain green that new leaves are; the soon-to-be-mama robin, the one who lurks nearby while I’m weeding and waits for me to throw her worms, she’s back; things are blooming and sprouting all over the yard and my garden pots are filled with tender hope and promise.

No, I haven’t been replaced by alien pods….”filled with tender hope and promise” might sound optimistic and cheerful to you…to me it’s recognition that even this temporary blissful state, like English peas, will soon be over. And it will be all “why did you die? What’s with the bolting? That’s, IT, I’m never planting X again. And Expletive squirrel, put down that tomato. There will be a time for that, but like English peas, in the meantime, I’m gorging myself on it.

Here, while I get used to writing for fun again, here are two things. An amazing invention. And yes, you're going to watch darn near the whole thing thinking when am I going to see the helmet? And then you swear. If you're me. You might have a more mature reaction:

http://bigthink.com/design-for-good/yes-for-real-its-an-invisible-bicycle-helmet-and-it-is-awesome?utm_source=Big+Think+Weekly+Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=693c512a85-Booth_10_URL_9_Wed_3_273_27_2013&utm_medium=email

And, while I’m not quite ready to re-design my life to fit a greyhound back into it yet, here’s why I will – turn down the volume if German punk rock isn’t your thing, and be a little patient for the good parts – but embodiment of strength, grace and power, here it is. Plus if you never understood why a greyhound (and cheetah) are so much faster than similarly shaped animals, the answer is double suspension gallop, and this is an excellent visual. I can’t pass up the chance to have such beauty in my life. Even if it pukes on my carpet and sheds on my coat and has to go out at 2am.

http://vimeo.com/62855545
terribleturnip: (percy)
Oh, hell, is it really only noon? I feel as I’ve been here for days, not a measly five hours. Time fails to fly when you feel awful.

Most people go on vacation and bring back souvenirs…I bring back the plague. Well, not really, although I’m trying to resist the urge to leaf through my copy of The Stand and match my symptoms up against Captain Trips. Just my body trying to drown itself in snot. I’m grateful that it waited until the day we were supposed to be leaving to rear its ugly head and claim my sinuses. Although because of the theoretical snowstorm, we couldn’t get a flight back east until a day and a half later. I know, stranded in Hawaii, cry me a river.

But when I’m sick, all I want to do is find some empty, abandoned badger den, crawl inside and wall it up from the inside. I’ll emerge when I’m better or when I’m dead. The latter case assuming I’m the second coming…otherwise, I’ll probably just moulder in there. Don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, I’m just going to put myself in isolation, be gross, and not come back until I’m human again.

Which explains why I’m at work today. No, I would love to be home, in bed. But thanks to the theoretical snow, that was another PTO day burned, and there’s a lot going on this year, so I need to conserve. Also, having been out of the office for a week, there is definitely some stuff that just couldn’t wait until next week. Even if it means running to the bathroom every half hour to expel half my frontal lobe into a tissue. Seriously, I swear my sinuses are a bag of holding for…well, let’s not get any grosser. (I gave you a hint, above, that Captain Trips was a Stephen King reference. Here, I’ll flat out tell you that a bag of holding in D&D is a be-spelled bag that holds more than is possible, fitting say four barrels of ale and three geese into a shoulder bag.) How big is this cold? Four barrels and three geese, apparently.

I’m trying to isolate myself, tissues in one pocket, hand sanitizer in the other, but I have to make occasional forays out – I really don’t like blowing my nose in public. But then I run the gauntlet of well-meaning colleagues “hey, omigosh, I hope you feel better than you look!” For the record, dear colleague, I felt better a few minutes ago when I thought that, despite FEELING like ass, at least I was holding appearances together. Now that you’ve affirmed that I also LOOK like ass, well….THANKS. THANKS A LOT.

Let’s also ponder the irony that the perfume samples I ordered from London have finally arrived and….yep, can’t really smell them. Postponing joy? Not my strong suit.

I have no diet update. I ate and drank myself around the island of Oahu several times. There will be punitive salads this weekend. Not that I don’t like salads, but not really being able to smell means not being able to taste, so all the joys of a salad are going to be lost on me, and my mouth really just craves fat and salt, since it can hone in on those, nose or no nose.

Biggest bummer is that this is totally overshadowing happy memories of a stress-free vacation (although the pessimist in me is already crowing “see, see what happens when you take a leisurely vacation? It makes you SICK!”). But this is the weekend I finally break down and hook up the new computer (oh, the challenges involved when you wait so long to buy new technology that your new and old technology can’t even really talk to each other anymore…sigh) and then I upload my vacation pictures and relive it a bit. Ah, even there, for a moment I remembered a brilliant passion fruit and lavender mojito – I don’t normally condone messing around with a mojito, but that was a lovely drink. Lovelier, for certain, when drunk underneath a big banyan tree, accompanied by island music and the sound of surf…but I still think it’ll hold up in cat-hair laden, ambient mid-atlantic suburb soundtrack situations.
terribleturnip: (percy)
Ha, this is awesome:

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/some-things-that-are-worse-than-being-alone-on-valentines-day

An article that came across my desk today estimates that American will spend 815 million dollars on their pets for valentine's day. 815 MILLION? WTF? I can only hope that includes food. What are you people BUYING? They can't read a card. Chocolate will kill them. And at best, they'll eat flowers and puke them up, giving you a less than felicitious Valentine's Day present.

I have been sabotaged all day with cheap chocolate. Little gifts from the boss, two suppliers, our social committee. (Remind me to never schedule business meetings on Valentine's Day again, as they seem to feel as if they need to bring something. Dude, we do business together. I may like you...and I'm sure you love my business...but it just feels vaguely inappropriate.) Plus, of course, while very good chocolate? I can have one a day and make it last. Cheap chocolate? Whoops, all gone, one day. AND I feel awful, all cheap sugary high, blowing it already on day 3 of our weight loss contest, guilty and shamed.

I think I better pick up some flowers on the way home, eat them and puke it all up.

(For the record, I'm not referring to eating disorders here. I'm talking about cats. I have five of them. Eating things and puking them up seems to be one of their main hobbies.)
terribleturnip: (willow)
So, here's the experiment - can I turn this tragedy of denial into amusing writing? We'll see. That's my intent. The irony that our contest is starting on Fat Tuesday is not lost on me. To be clear, though, I'm not looking for help from you. You may laugh, you may chuckle, you may think oh, isn't she funny. Or even pathetic. You may chime in and say "oh, hey, I thought last time I saw you, wow, giving the Michelin Man a run for his money, I see."

What you WILL NOT DO is kill my buzz and start offering me weight loss tips. Go ahead and mention "what worked for you" and I will defriend you, delete you and out you to the Russians as the worst kind of spammer. Be fun or write your own expletive blog.

Ahem. Sorry. Limited calories make me testy. Every once in a while they start touting the longevity benefits of ultra-low calorie diets -- if you really, really cut calories back and semi-starve yourself, you'll live longer. Well, that would make me the longest lived person on the face of the earth. Although mainly because I would have been so aggravated with everyone that I would extinguish the species, one annoying well-fed person at a time.

Anyway, here's the skinny. See, funny already. )
terribleturnip: (percy)
So, it's bad enough that I'm having all of this groundless anxiety for no apparent reason -- other than worrying about whether I'm wasting time pampering (if by pampering I mean getting enough sleep, taking it easy from time to time and reducing my pace) myself, when no amount of pampering makes me feel any better, PLUS I'm falling behind on things I want to do, so if I'm going to feel like carp, I might as well ramp things up, get stuff done and feel like carp. At least I won't have to sweat falling behind. But then I start to worry about making this worse, whatever the hell it is.

To help, my mother forwards me news of a family friend who is being flown back to the States so that they can operate on his pancreas. Because he has a fishbone stuck in it.

Wait, WHAT? I didn't even know that could happen. How the hell do you get a fishbone stuck in your pancreas? (Note to self: all those tiny fish you refuse to eat whole, and for which refusal you have endured the ridicule of friends and family? Pat yourself on the back, Self, at least you won't wind up with a fishbone in your pancreas.) Although that brings up specters of all of the other weird expletive that could be going on....thanks, Mom.

Leaving a colleague's office, I did my patented grab the doorframe as I go and swing myself outward into the hallway...because I am a child and it feels fun. Aaaaand this time, I manage to catch my ring on the corner of the lockplate, and for a brief moment am hanging with most of my weight suspended on one toe tip and the ring. It hurt a lot. Also, my ring is now oval shaped and will not come off my finger until I manage to beat it back to round...while on my finger...or have it cut off. Awesome.

So, I came back to do some minor file cleaning, setting up some new files for potential new suppliers. And found myself making a file for "Personal/Pet Hygiene"...for the scented disposable bags to put feminine hygiene products, doggy poo bags, condoms, sex amenities, and yes, bio-degradable coffins.

You know what? That's enough for one day. I can't take anymore. I'm trading this in for a bottle of wine and rack of lamb.
terribleturnip: (willow)
WAH! Why don’t I feel better? Since about Christmas, I’ve tried to be vigilant about getting enough sleep, eating my daily share of veggies, hitting the Emergen-C. And okay, surrounded by sick people of all kinds and I never got anything. Except for about a week now I’ve had this feeling of incipient illness – headache-y, sinus pressure. Maybe some very low-grade fever and chills, except that when the Hot Flash Fairy is your new best friend, it’s hard to say what the hell is going on, temperature-wise. It’s the exhaustion that’s really making me nuts – no matter how much sleep I get, I want MORE. I want to go to bed at 8pm, take naps in the afternoon, push the alarm clock off just one more hour….

If I thought I was just going to suffer from this for two weeks and then it would gradually fade away, I’d be celebrating that I got off easy. But in true glass-half-empty fashion, I’m petrified that this is just a PRECURSOR, and eventually it will build into something far more impactful and then I will be Mary, Queen of Snots for a FURTHER two weeks, with ANOTHER two weeks of being not fully functioning.

And the lesson learned is: )
terribleturnip: (percy)
I need to send the link below to the people who lived next to us in my hometown. They used to become outraged when my horses would occasionally bust the fence and wander across the yard and had near apoplexy when a herd of donkeys wound up in our backyard on Christmas morning. (Go ahead, make all the nativity jokes you want. We sure did.) Don’t even get me started on the herds of dairy cattle, flocks of geese and sheep that would wander through the neighborhood from time to time. Oh, you called the police because there were a dozen escaped Holsteins in your backyard? 15,000 crocodiles…I suppose that would have merited a call to the national guard….

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/9823009/15000-crocodiles-escape-from-South-African-farm.html

So, Disney’s going to RFID (radio frequency ID, you’re probably more familiar with it when a product you’re buying sets off the alarm as you leave the store because it didn’t get deactivated at checkout. The rectangular things used to just set off alarms. These are more like metal-impregnated stickers and can contain more information than OMG, someone’s stealing razor blades!) and you’ll now be tagged like an endangered migratory bird, with all your wanderings about the park being tracked and summated. Although honestly, if it makes the wait for a ride any shorter, I could give a rat’s patoot if, on this one day, Disney knows how many times I have to pee. When I walk into MouseLand, I abandon all fantasies about being a self-determining individual. I have willingly chosen to be the Mouse’s bitch for the day, have at me. But I will thwart you all I can and pay cash for food and souvenirs and not use my Mickey Account or whatever the hell it’s called. Because I may be your bitch, but I’ll be a dick about it. I can’t reproduce the link where I found this news, as it’s subscription based, although it’s no secret, so you can google it if you want. But the newsletter I got it from writes “Moving deeper into personal data collection, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is introducing a MagicBand tool, rubber bracelets that enable Disney to track guest behavior in minute detail. Will shoppers forsake privacy concerns for a more interactive and personalized shopping experience?”

Seriously, I do not WANT a more interactive and personalized shopping experience. Here’s what I want: fast, easy and to be left alone until I have a question or need, and then I want someone with an IQ higher than my heartbeat to help me, while pretending to care. Gotta give Disney props – they actually deliver the last two. Which also explains, to a certain degree, why going to Disney costs an arm and a leg.
Sit down, this is going to take a while... )
terribleturnip: (percy)
Okay, I've got a training class in a half an hour and it's just now dawning on me that it's three and a half freaking hours long. Augh. #1. I can't sit that long. Never mind pay attention. #2. They still think it's effective to have two people share a computer when learning software. (It's not.) So I have to choose between being the one to be at the keyboard, which increases my chances of learning something from muscle memory, but increases my anxiety about someone sitting next to me watching me expletive up. Or, do the reverse, which takes a lot of pressure off of me socially, but increases the likelihood that I will have to take this class again, because it's so much harder to learn when someone else is just showing you. And here's the worse thing - I have ANOTHER four hour training class on something completely different tomorrow. I'm afraid I might develop a brain tumor just to get out of it.

Here's the thing -- I really, really enjoy learning new things. But not so much in public. And within my time-frame capability - which is around an hour, at most two. And at my own pace, which is about twice as fast as average for most things, but about half-speed when learning things like...pivot tables. ::shudder:: I know it's not hard -- but when you have a mental block and keep being taught by people for whom it's second nature...

What I need to do is get a book, scuttle off on my own, and learn it. But so far I've been able to make that case here at work, and there are a mandatory number of hours of training we need to put in, which I support intellectually but hate and fear emotionally, like a feral cat being dragged into the vet's office. I think that not knowing how to do something is almost embarassing to me, so I want to catch up in private. I don't want anyone to see me making mistakes. Just emerge, ta-da, fully skilled and competent.

Plus there's my notorious lack of patience with other people. Some things are easy for me, really easy. And while I can be extraordinarily patient when I'm teaching people, I'm the worst classmate in the world if you read a little bit more slowly than I do. If the teacher has a powerpoint deck that basically repeats whatever he or she is saying. If someone asks a question that seems obvious to me. I was put in the special classes to keep everyone else safe from my withering sighs and eyerolls, not for my own benefit, I believe. I can be a real expletive as a fellow student.

And when it comes to learning software skills -- there are going to be some places this afternoon where I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and I'll be all "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, c'mon, I got expletive to do back at my desk" and there will be places where I go into full panic "wait, what, how did we get here, aw, god, I'm so many steps behind I'll never catch up" and then the TA will get me to where I'm supposed to be, but I won't understand how we got there, so it all becomes pointless and it's just like algebra again, which I had to take for three years and then remedial in college because when I develop a brain block about understanding something, it is proof against zombies AND nuclear devastation.

Which is why I am taking this Excel class again. So that I can be bored through all the filter/sort/search/formula stuff...and get left in the dust on pivot tables. Expletive. It's algebra all over again, isn't it? Only this time with restless leg syndrome, hot flashes and an adult short attention span. Awesome.

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