Friday, February 27, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

I would like to take a minute to call your attention, fellow citizens, to a book that has corrupted millions of people and caused so much pain and suffering.

This book is dangerous indeed, but despite the well-intentioned efforts of many, it is published again and again and disseminated to all sectors of society.

It finds its way into virtually every library. It even makes it's way into our children's schools. Some kids are even coaxed into carrying a small copy of it with them in their backpacks every day.

Though it was clearly written as a work of fiction, some readers have taken it for fact and believe that the depraved and outrageous circumstances depicted in it have their foundation in truth, which makes this even more dangerous in its proven ability to warp and tarnish young or immature minds.

Though it is not printed with any foreword warning readers of its contents, the government should step in as a public duty and force the various publishers of this book to sell it only if the following advisory is clearly and prominently affixed to its front cover:


CONTENT ADVISORY: Contains verses descriptive or advocating suicide, incest, bestiality, sadomasochism, sexual activity in a violent context, murder including infanticide and genocide, morbid violence, use of drugs or alcohol, homosexuality, voyeurism, revenge, undermining of authority figures, lawlessness, and human rights violations and atrocities.
EXPOSURE WARNING: Exposure to contents for extended periods of time or during formative years in children may cause delusions, hallucinations, decreased cognitive and objective reasoning abilities, and, in extreme cases, pathological disorders, hatred, bigotry and violence including, but not limited to, fanaticism, infanticide, homicide, genocide and war.

So that you may readily recognize this vile publication in order to eradicate it from your life and prevent it from falling into the hands of your children, click on the link below to access an image of the book in one of its more commonly found cover designs.

Click here and may your knowledge guide you to do the right thing. Burn every one you find.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SCRAPBOOK: The Ebb And Flow Of Blogs

Since the very nature of most blogs is entirely dependent on the initiative, or lack thereof, of the blog creator to keep posting, they can be a fickle form of communication indeed.

The magical quality that makes blogs so alluring to readers is the very quality that puts their very existence in peril.

They are the ongoing expression of the author, and for good or for bad, that makes them a wholly singular window...the viewpoint according to one person, at one given time. Since this is an aspect of human development that is in constant flux, the impetus to create and maintain the blog may, or may not, survive the constant changes of attitude and circumstance of any one blogger. It's only natural.

So because of this ephemeral nature, a blog is oh so precious since it may well be dissolved, sometimes without notice, at any given time.

Kinda like a metaphor for life, if you will.

Recently, it seems, the blogosphere is undergoing a wave of change, at least from my small, insignificant view.

The Homeless Guy, a blog maintained by chronically homeless, or nearly so, Kevin Baribeaux since 2002, seems like it has been shut down.

Here's a quote from the one of the last entries:

"I have gone a whole week without posting here. And, I'm having a hard time writing anything, anymore. So I guess this is a more formal announcement that I may not be blogging for a while still."


Another blog I follow has fallen into the realm of the absurd. I mean, just look at this haiku posted by Davey Wavey recently. It's a harbinger of the end of the blogosphere as we know it. Well...not really...;):

warmth between my thighs
an unexpected dribble
oh dear. i’m pregnant.


Ross Mathews...oh my.

His Talky Blogs were infamous in the world of blogs. One of the first pioneers of impromptu "slice of life" videos, posted virtually daily, for the world to witness the everyday life of a creative, animated and quite funny contributor to the Tonite Show with Jay Leno.

Well, now he's left the Tonite Show and started a web talk show, complete with cheesy set and bad sound, trying to do the same kinda segments which made him so adorable on the Tonight Show....celebrity interviews and backstage glances...but it falls way short of the mark. It's affiliated with CBS's Entertainment Tonight "The Insider" and has as much substance as any of that TV tabloid crap, ie. not much.

So, he's abandoned the Talky Blogs on his NBC blog and the blogsphere sighs a gasp of loss since it was from those Talky Blogs, not some scripted, cheap 10-minute show not even good enough for local public access cable TV, that he shined his light upon the Netizens of the world.


Rosie O'Donell is another drop-out amongst the community of pioneer bloggers. Now her blog URL links you to a info web site about her kids charity. Ho hum. Pah-lease!





London Preppy, what happened? He left for Australia and now we can't read about the obviously made-up, yet still very interesting high-end life style of a British fag into only the surface stuff, and just the surface stuff. Nothing more.



At least I keep shining my personal beacon of expression here and plan to continue my goal to put before the world my true thoughts and past experiences, not simply up for judgment or analysis, but merely to be available for any reader's sheer enjoyment of being able to step back and gaze through the eyes of the writer; to bear witness to that person's personal and entirely unique view on the wholly mysterious and ever-changing experience known as life.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

Are we heading into a full out depression ala the 1930's?

I give you three points to ponder...

1. I'm currently watching the HBO series, via Netflix rentals of "Carnivale" on DVD. Total immersion into the Great Depression and it's effect on the American Heartland.

2. Many of my customers that call me each day are from our company's territories which unlike competitors like AT&T and Verizon, seem to be the low-end of the socio-economic strata, so I hear sob stories everyday, and see account after account in "the red", on the verge of losing their telephone service for non-payment. When you can't pay your phone bill, usually, failing to make your rent or mortgage isn't far behind.

3. And finally, there's this news below from today's Christian Science Monitor on our most recent woes on Wall Street...

Like I said...

Brother, can you spare a dime? I think I may need it.

After all, just five dimes or so will now buy a share of AIG stock.

___________________________________________________

Concerns about banks and AIG weigh on markets.

Dow plunges to nearly a 12-year low.

Before there was a 9/11 or a Bush presidency or Google or a public scandal surrounding Monica Lewinsky, there was a stock market that stood higher than current levels.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 250 points Monday to close at 7114.78, a nearly 12-year low. The last time the stock index closed below that level was May 7, 1997.

The S&P 500 also effectively erased more than 11 years of gains Monday, falling 26.7 points to close at 743.33. The technology-heavy Nasdaq index dropped 53.5 points to close at 1387.72 points, a level not seen since the dot-com bust of 2003.

Federal assurances

The market moves came despite government assurances Monday that the US stood ready to back the financial system and a White House fiscal responsibility summit heavy on rhetoric about reducing government spending eventually.

Many analysts said they were waiting for details from the administration about how it would stabilize the banking system.

Worries over AIG

Also weighing on the market was a CNBC report that AIG, the tottering and mostly government-owned insurance giant, would announce losses of nearly $60 billion. That would represent the biggest loss in US corporate history.

In a statement, AIG said it would release financial results “in the near future.” The company said it continues “to work with the U.S. government to evaluate potential new alternatives for addressing AIG’s financial challenges.”

___________________________________________________

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Slow-But-Sure Accumulation Of Stuff

"...[Other peoples'] stuff is shit, but your shit is stuff!"

(On staying overnight at someone else's place) "Oh Shit, no! Now what do you bring? Now you just bring the things you know you're gonna need: money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, cigarettes, contraceptives, Vaseline, whips, chains, whistles, dildos and a book!"


- George Carlin -


Finally getting to some much needed chores this weekend, I've become aware of the fact that my little house is slowly, but surely starting to get cramped with stuff.

Like anybody else, I desire to accumulate stuff. It's easier to have a certain item of stuff on an occasion when you need it, even if you don't use it everyday. That's the idea of getting stuff in the first place. The other aspect of acquiring stuff is that it somewhat fills a void. For some, the acquisition of stuff becomes an obsession. George Carlin noted and ridiculed this often in his acts.

For some it's a status symbol. For other's it's a substitute for something else they feel lacking in their life. For yet others, its a paranoia that if they don't have the correct stuff, they may not be able to get it in the future.

Since well before the start of my Koyaanisqatsi years, for me it's been merely a fulfillment of basic needs.

I used to be like many people, working in order to simply be able to buy more stuff.

Books were one of my first objects of desire. Throughout my teen years and well into my late 20's I bought thousands of books, mostly hardcover. But I couldn't make enough money to afford bigger homes to display them all in, so I gave many away and boxed the majority of them. Eventually, those boxes became too numerous and too heavy for the number of moves I was making through the years and box by box, I shed them all; the bulk of them when I moved to Florida and left my friend John C. tens of boxes of them.

Artworks were another obsession. Mostly my own. But they're even more bulky and awkward to move, when one is a wanderlust like me, so they too were shed, piece by piece, over the years. At present, I own not a one of my many framed paintings or drawings, and I haven't for over a decade.

What's stating to build again, now, after so much time spent de-accumulating?

Computer games: From 1993 to 2002 I had built a huge collection over those years, but much of it, by the early years of this decade was painfully obsolete. During the early months of Koyaanisqatsi, hard up for cash, I sold it all (at least the stuff they'd take) to Electronics Boutique for about $25 total, the rest I threw into the same dumpster at Reflections that consumed my family photos, knick knacks, clothes, dishes and Nastralia materials in one drunken gulp.

Now since 2005, I've rebuilt my vast collection of computer games. Literally thousands of dollars spent on over a hundred titles. Most of the CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs just gather dust, but I cling to them in case I get a yen to play a forgotten game some bored evening.

Clothes: Like every other overweight person on Earth, I hold on to clothes that no longer fit in the vain hope I'll drop the necessary pounds to wear them again. I have favorite shirts and pants that go back one or two sizes less than what fits now, and they sit in my closet, taking up valuable space, "just in case" I get back on track tomorrow and can squeeze back in them in a few weeks or so. Those weeks never seem to come.

Bills: Despite the financial disasters throughout the Koyaanisqatsi period (and before), my economic house of cards has miraculously been pretty stable over the course of the past few years, by comparison, of course. I am still quite poor, in my humble but astute estimation. But I'm not on the verge, just yet anyway, of outright panic or even discomfort. I live within my means and I'm happier for it. I've learned the invaluable lesson of settling for the basics and not coveting the trappings of luxury. But with stability comes traceability. Having a mailing address known by now ancient creditors (some from over a decade ago) means the accumulation of letters from all sorts of collection agencies.

Oh they won't ever be paid, of course. They're just kept neatly in a pile. An ever growing pile.

To remind me of the high price to pay for the wanton desires and constant yearning to get more stuff.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Only In Japan

Ah yes, the world capital of androgyny does it again.

First there was anime, which reduces the variation between the sexes, in cartoon form, to create a unisex, wide-eyed character of ambiguous gender.

Then there were the fashion firsts...man purses and make-up, including multi-colored lipstick, for men.

Now, they have this...



What's next? An at home, do-it-yourself sex change operation kit?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Co-Worker Roast 2009

Yes, folks, it's that time again. Time to sum up each of my more interesting co-workers and rip them apart mercilessly for my own sick amusement, this time at my new company, so a whole new cast of characters. Ready?

Brittany - With no real prior experience in the field, I have no idea how she got hired other than the fact some middle-aged men, like our boss Rick, might find her 20-year-old petite body and perky breasts very easy on the eyes. Or maybe the "casting couch" during the interview? Hmmm? She isn't gonna make it though. She seems to have only cotton candy stuffed between her ears.

Denise - The other newbie of our Class of 3 that started together on January 5. Denise is about my age, and seems pretty together and with it. But this is a roast. I can't just leave it at that...oh yeah...she loves Jesus. Yup, she's a born-again, Republican, Bush-lovin' Christian, who prays at each meal and wishes everyone on Earth were as enlightened as her. Since they aren't, she finds fault with everyone. And has no problem expressing herself as a moral beacon to set one's standards to, ala the Church Lady. Isn't that special!

Natalia - Hey man, let's all take a trip. A trip back to the swingin' '70s, Baby! ? Natalia is one groovy black chick who loves Andy Warhol, Bob Mackie, Disco Divas and fondue parties. She wears tie-die and a necklace featuring a 45-RPM turntable spindle. Only us oldies in the crowd could identify what that pendant was. But, get this, she must be proof of reincarnation since she's only 26. This would be the equivalent phenomena if I had been an Elvis and Bill Haley fan when I was her age. Most unusual. But hey, we dig her, since she's so cool, man! Peace!

Margie - She's in the cube across from me, much like the evil Ross was in the early days of Symantec, but listening to her cracks me up. Margie is way too sensitive to the various moods and issues that customers carry. She gets wrapped up in their personal stories, and some calls last hours since she is so sympathetic to them. I've heard her crying because they tell her about their personal woes. Man, this is the epitome of getting too involved. Yes, they want us to sound empathetic and concerned, Margie, but you will not last if you take it all personally like you do. Sounding concerned is way different than being concerned. Don't BE concerned. It will wear you down, girl. Time will harden you, grasshopper.

Kathy - Sitting directly across the aisle from me, I can turn 180 degrees and there she is, sitting quietly in her cube, perhaps listening to everything I, or anyone around, says. This older (late 50's) woman seems like she might be my new Marilyn. Why? I can't put my finger on it. She's been with the company since perhaps the days of rotary phones and manual switchboards. I don't know for sure but she's got the sweetest set up ever. She works 4 days a week, 10 hour days, and she's a Tech Lead Tier 2 VM Tech Support Lead Coach/Supervisor. Actually that's an amalgam of the various different titles for her position but things are in such transition for this company, that long complex title, while not technically accurate, suffices as a general ID of what one in her position is...the top level before actual management. Because of this status, she's placed only in an advanced queue which barely receives calls. And, when they do get calls, they are usually assistance requests from Tier I agents, so customer interaction is near nothing. Like an average of about 3 to 6 calls per day! For a 10 hour shift! Oh brother! But her demeanor seems like she thinks she knows it all. And her cubicle crammed with angel dolls, needlework framed prayers and a crochet cross reek Jesus Lover Ultra Supreme! I'm watching out for this one, for sure.

Oh, there are plenty more, but this should suffice for now. American Idol is on and I have to watch Simon do his own ripping apart of people based on superficial impressions.

Oh my, one of the contestants is daring to try to sing a Whitney Houston song. Oh this should be a lovely Simon thrashing for sure!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Death Of Death

I play thought games with myself frequently. I also play with myself frequently, but that's another topic entirely. Here's one thought game inspired by blogger Davey Wavey recently when he wrote in one of his posts:

"...we must realize that death is necessary in the planet’s cycle of life. It renews and restores the planet and allows for the beautiful world in which we all live. Without death, life would be a living hell."

Hmmm....

What if suddenly, every living thing on Earth stopped dying?

Here's my estimate of events according to the information I could find from various sources:

All living things stop their dying processes. This means that all cells remain intact and undegraded, no matter the situation, in all organisms, no matter where on Earth, no matter what size or complexity, no matter what situation.

1. This would also mean the cessation of any cell mitosis as, technically, that requires cell deconstruction and reconstruction. Thus, all growth stops. Single celled organisms stop dividing and multiplying, seeds stop germinating, embryos stop growing. Without the energy obtained from the breakdown of cellular life, biological processes requiring this energy will cease, up to near-but-not-quite-at the point of atrophy since that would mean death of the cell, which is now non-existent.

2. All lifeforms requiring the breakdown of cellular constructs to extract energy for it's existence would be severely compromised. In other words, nothing biological can be eaten. There would be widespread and massive starvation in all organisms that do not entirely depend on non-biologic sources for sustenance, like plants. But these organisms can't die so instead they would "live" in a near-death, painful existence for, well, forever. Humans, for instance, would all be in a prostrate, motionless and comatose state, no longer having the energy sources to support their power-draining brains. They would not all be concentration camp thin however, since their fat cells cannot breakdown. The source of the minimal energy required to pump their hearts and allow breathing would be part of non-death phenomenon, since the energy would not be food supplied.

3. Only lifeforms which do not require the destruction of existing life would be able to exist in a state relatively similar to their present, except for growth, death or procreation. Namely plants, lichen, mosses etc. that rely on photosynthesis.

So while it sounds like a Utopian idea to eliminate the existence of death from our world, in fact it may bring on a scary reality of billions of years of a happy-go-lucky Earth for the green things. But a literal living hell for everything else. Until, that is, when the sun goes nova, swells into a Red Giant and envelops the Earth with it's 10,000,000 degree Kelvin corona.

Then all bets are off.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On The Boob Tube

*LOST: With this season, all previous time frames are themselves LOST. Not only have the producers of the show made us wait almost a whole year for the new season but now we shift between the past and the future erratically throughout each episode. And who's to say what the "present" is? Is it days after the freighter exploded and the island disappeared as it nominally is for the Locke/Sawyer/Daniel left behind group? (Except that they really are quite unstuck in time and who's to say "when" they are at any given moment) Or is it 3 years later as it is for the infamous Oceanic Six (as well Desmond, Ben and Locke's body)? This week's episode had the cloud monster killing a few of Danielle's shipwrecked party after they find Jin floating in the sea near the island, alive but an unwitting time traveler since it was now, for them, 1988. Then Jin jumped in time a few months forward and Danielle was shooting everyone on sight since her party, including her boyfriend (and her unborn baby's daddy), went crazy. Before the end of the show, Charlotte was dead and Locke was cranking up the big wheel underneath the Orchid station (or where it would be built) in order to move the island again.

*BSG: Oh Gaeta! What happened to you? For four seasons, Gaeta was a loyal good guy. (Albeit a bout of poor judgment working on New Caprica as President Baltar's aide-de-camp but was vindicated since he was a secret spy for the Resistance) Soon after losing his leg and being revealed to be gay, he turns into the militant leader of yet another coup against Adama, this time it's about animosity towards an ad hoc alliance with the anti-Cavill quasi-pro-human monotheistic Cylon faction and the living members of the Final 5 (ya my head is spinning too). Many die in this brief civil war including the entire Quorum of Twelve, massacred in cold blood at the hands of Vice President Zarek. Gaeta even orders the assassination of the Admiral. But the tables soon turn and instead it's Zarek and Gaeta who are staring down the long barrels of their executioners' rifles. Gaeta's gamy stump stops itching just before the guns fire. This likely signals actor Richard Hatch's curtain call on the show, not a bad run though if you count his first role as Apollo on the original series, a span of over 30 years in the BSG limelight.

*The Amazing Race: Oh yeah, it's back and I just finished watching the season premier episode. Lots of interesting couples this year. Of course, all the usual Amazing Race stereotypes: the county folk, the black sisters, the bickering newly dating couple, the hunk and his girlfriend, the working class stiffs, the old couple, and of course the gay guys (though, surprise, it's a gay father and his gay son, zing!). The bungee jump off the dam was crazy and the downhill cheese run was hilarious. Looks like it's gonna be a good season. Of course I rooting for Kris, the hottie. Hopefully there will be many a shirtless opportunity. Yum!

*Cold Case: Okay tonite's episode was probably the most warm Cold Case I've seen the series explore yet. The death occurred in September 2008. It was silly when they did the little "how they look now and then" sequence, I mean, it's barely a haircut or two ago!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Daydream Believer

Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings Of the bluebird as she sings. The six o'clock alarm would never ring. Whoops its ringing and I rise, Wipe the sleep out of my eyes. My shavin' razors cold and it stings. -Daydream Believer - The Monkees

I daydream. Alot. I mean, so much so, I think I sometimes spend more hours of my life in both daydream and sleep dream than I do awake and dealing with "reality".

And when you add to that the hours, on average, I spend under the influence of alcohol, my life is spent in an unconventional state of consciousness most of the time.

Why? Well, isn't it obvious. I think you delude yourself if you believe "reality" is more fun than fantasy. I mean, if you enjoy all the challenges and uncertainties of the real world, why not create that environment in a fantasy?

I choose to strive for enjoyment in as many minutes of living breathing life I have on this Earth, everyday, all the time.

So what do I do in circumstances that require stress, or anger, or sadness? Well here's three examples:

Stress

Anger

Sadness

In each of these situations, I reacted on the surface as most people would...but inside I took pleasure in the privilege of the experience. Yes that's right, the privilege of the experience. Being able to experience these emotions, interpret them, and make sense of them is challenge enough, but I take it a step further. I ask myself, "How can I convert this experience into something positive and uplifting?". Amazingly, I seem to always find a way.

I'm spending today at home, taking a quintessential "mental health" sick day from work, daydreaming...

Converting the harsh reality of existence into a mellow, sunshine and rainbow filled realm of happiness and pleasure.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FLASHBACK: February 2005

It was Super Bowl Sunday and Ric and I headed out to T.G.I. Friday's to enjoy the game with other loud drunks and plenty of beer.

Until I had notified him of it, Ric hadn't known of the existence of this Friday's restaurant in Lake Mary even though he'd lived right down the road for 5 months now. Truthfully, unless you were making your way across the Lake Mary Blvd. overpass over I-4, it wasn't really noticeable. Though it had visibility from Lake Mary Blvd., access was by way of a side street. Without a car, Ric would not have had any chance of driving down this way so it was understandable he hadn't noticed it. So when Ric discovered one of his favorite bar and grill chains right here, within walking distance of his apartment at Sun Lake, it became a new hangout quickly.

Our usual bartender Raoul let us know that they were having a Super Bowl party so here we were, ready to get down to some serious drinking and, for Ric, rooting for the Eagles.

But upon arriving that afternoon, the "party" looked like it was going to be a dud, so we graciously made our way out and walked the 2 or 3 blocks down LMB to Gator's Dockside, a traditional good ole boy sports bar.

I rooted for my New England Patriots and much to the chagrin of Ric, they won. He wasn't that upset though, he was by now plastered and "feelin' no pain". So was I for that matter.

We eventually began our walk back home to Sun Lake and as we passed a parked black Lexus SUV in the parking lot of Albertson's, I noticed the car had a George W. Bush '04 campaign sticker on it's back bumper. As I looked up through the back window, I noticed the driver of the car was seated in the driver's seat and eye-balling me through the rear-view mirror. She looked like a stuck up Republican bitch and when our eyes met each other in her rear-view mirror, it was like in "Kill Bill" when Uma Thurman's character made eye-contact with someone "on her list".

"Eeeeee! Owwwww! Eeeeee! Owwwww! Ta-da-da-da-da-da-DA!!!!"

I flipped her the bird and yelled out "Fuck You, Bitch!", just for the heck of it. I walked off with Ric and we were soon about to forget about her, laughing off the 3-seconds of my drunken Random Act of Unkindness, when she revved her engine and peeled out of her spot, turned her SUV sharply and made out as if she were going to run me down. I ran to the side and the crazy bitch turned towards me. I found a nearby shopping cart and as she sped by me in her faux rundown attempt, I pushed the cart hard, aiming just ahead of her to meet the anticipated trajectory and to my glee and her utter shock the cart connected beautifully, t-boning hard into her pretty Lexus, directly in her left side door. Surely it made a nice dent, but I didn't stick around to survey the damages, I started to run.

Lake a mad woman, she turned sharply around and now I felt that the game had been escalated to a real road rage car vs. pedestrian struggle. Ric had run as soon as he saw me push the cart. He was on probation for his DUI, he didn't want any further trouble with the law.

But trouble with the law was what I was looking at, I knew, if I stuck around. Yet although my adrenaline was pumping hard, my fitness level dictated that I slow to a jog, then a fast walk by the time I'd reached the other end of the parking lot, well before the exit onto Lake Emma Road some 100 yards away. I now painfully walked as fast as I could towards the exit on the sidewalk in front of the strip mall shops that make up the south side of the plaza, protected from the crazy lady's deadly SUV. She pulled up along side of me, powered down her window and indicated she was on her cell phone with the police right now. I yelled at her that she was a crazy bitch and I hit her car with the cart to defend myself, but I wasn't about to wait for the cops to tell them my side of the story.

I slipped out of the plaza a few feet before the entrance through a hole in the fence into what would be, unbeknownst to either Ric or me at the time, Ric's new home come May, Hidden Village Condos. I could see the flashing lights of approaching Seminole County Sheriffs' cruisers as I ducked into the backyards of these townhouses. There I hid for about 30 minutes in the bushes behind what appeared to be a vacant unit, watching the cruisers drive slowly through the streets of the complex, scanning around with their searchlights. I felt like I could almost hear the sound of wailing bloodhounds trying to sniff me out.

Once I felt the coast was clear, I carefully made my way towards Ric's apartment complex further down the road. I decided to hide my baseball cap under some bushes just in case there had been a description of my appearance put out in an APB to cops in the area.

("Be on the lookout - Tall, fat man in dark clothes and a white baseball cap. Be advised he tried to kill a fellow right-wing Bush-lovin' Republican with a deadly shopping cart. Shoot on site!")

All in all, I got home to Ric's a few minutes later and he seemed glad I hadn't been caught. We had a few weeks of humorous "war stories" to tell our bar buddies for a while.

BTW, I would forget about the hidden hat until many months later when to my happy surprise, I was able to find it still relatively clean and intact.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dear Bubba, Please Use Lots Of Lube

Have I opened a personal Pandora's Box exposing my greatest skeleton in the closet? We shall soon find out...

As I do every year, I logged onto the IRS.GOV site to "test" complete my tax form. But unlike every year for the past several years, I found out, to my happy surprise, that I didn't, as was usually the case, owe more money to the IRS. In fact, I am due a refund of $325!

Woo Hoo! Good news, right?

Well kinda...

When I tried to complete the online filing, the site instructed me to type in the income amounts from LAST YEAR'S tax return so it could compare and match the figures up, supposedly as a security measure to insure my identity. Well, I don't have last year's return.

Why? Is it because I'm careless with my financial records and didn't retain them as I should? No. Actually, the reason is much more fundamentally corrupt...

I didn't file my tax return last year.

In fact, I haven't filed tax returns since 2000!

Sound of klaxon sirens going off, a baritone booming voice explodes in the air "Get Him! Get that traitor!!"

Why?

Here's the whole story: Way back in December of 1999, I bought a new car, a 2000 Ford Focus ZX3. I loved the car but because of my not-so-great credit I got financed at a kinda high rate. Prior to this purchase I had not had a car payment for over a year and had really low insurance payments since I covered only state minimums on my aging Geo Metro. With the new calendar year coming up, I thought of what, at the time, seemed like a good idea to help off-set the higher expenses of a monthly car payment and higher insurance (since it was full coverage). I decided to change my W-4 form and claim a high number, like 6 or so as dependents. This would reduce the amount of money withheld for taxes. It doesn't reduce the tax obligation for your income bracket though, so instead of a rebate, one may owe taxes to the IRS if there hadn't been enough taken out.

Whew...long story short...when April 15 of the next year came 'round, I figured out I owed way more than I could afford, something like $800. Yikes! So I decided to take the risk of not filing and see what would happen.

No one contacted me. No federal agents knocked on my door wearing black suits and ties wanting to drag me away. Nothing happened.

I wanted to be responsible though, and while I may have evaded paying the taxes for the 2000 tax year, I really wanted to avoid evasion the next year, so I reduced my Line 5 number on my W-4 to 3. Well, when tax time next came around I had to pay much less, something like $200, but I still had to pay. And finances by April 2002 had gotten really tight with my DUI expenses and all. So, with trepidation, I didn't file, again.

By tax time the next year I had fallen into the cyclone of my Koyaanisqatsi period. I could barely feed and house myself, let alone pay taxes, so, again, I didn't file.

So it was for the next two years. Despite drastically reduced income, my high dependent numbers on my W-4 had me owing rather than receiving. What's more, I was in survival mode, and add to that a total animosity for the government of George W. Bush and what my tax contributions would be used for. Now I just didn't care. I ratcheted the W-4 number up to 8 and bid a "fuck you" to the government.

Last year, I decided I had to get a handle on this. The whole Wesley Snipes trial hit too close to home. I decided to reduce the W-4 number to 2 in preparation to at least reduce my debt come the next tax time, ie: now.

More than reduce my debt, it helped insure I'd be due a refund. But will my filing, that I am mailing off today, inspire a too-inquisitive IRS agent to look deeper into my history?

IRS Lackey: "Excuse me Mr. Jones? I have this return that I can't match to a previous years return..."

Mr. David Jones, IRS Supervisor: "Hmmm, really, let me see here."

"Click Click Click" go the computer keys as Mr. Jones searches the Supreme IRS Database...nicknamed "S.I.D. 5000"

S.I.D. 5000: "Good Morning, Dave. I've found the information you requested."

Mr. Jones: "Great! What's the story on this guy SID?"

SID: "He's an LH8, Dave. I think we should send out an apprehension team."

Jones: "An LH8!!! Whew!! Man, how'd we miss this guy? Thanks so much SID!"

SID: "My pleasure, Dave. Would you like to play a nice game of chess?"

IRS Lackey: "Um, Mr. Jones...what's an LH8?"

Jones: "It stands for Leona Helmsley 8. Named for the most notorious tax evader of our time. The 8 stands for the number of years this prick evaded taxes. This fucker is worse than Osama Bin-Laden!"

Lackey: "I hope we put him away for life, sir!"

Jones: "Oh we will. We will."

Friday, February 06, 2009

My Home Away From Home

Finally we are finished with classroom training and I'm in place on our floor, in my cubicle.

As far as cubicles go it's nice. Bigger than the one I had at Symantec, it has lots of storage space. Considering the lack of staorage space at home, I may want to consider keeping some stuff here, LOL!

The job so far seems as anticipated. My biggest issue right now is the fact I have to learn so many things about the job. I just want to hurry up and be knowledgeable already. My Symantec job was super easy and relatively stress-free once I knew my shit. I was secure in my element. Ah, to be in that place again. It will happen, but I guess I'm just impatient...

Of course the other big change is I actually have to talk to customers here. Long gone are the days of playing on the Internet all day. Internet use is not against policy here, but it's allowed only during downtime like no calls or breaks and lunches, like now.

Well, got to get on to cruising to other sites.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

FLASHBACK: Winter 1984

"Chausse, you're assigned to Ward 2.", my supervisor informed me without the slightest regret.

But to me, it sounded like a death sentence.

Staffing was seasonally low at my new place of employment, Wrentham State School, a state run institution for the mentally retarded, a sprawling campus of mid-19th century brick buildings discreetly hidden away amidst the wooded countryside of southeastern Massachusetts. So this meant that our normally static placements would be disrupted for a while as we each were assigned temporary "floater" placements. This meant mandatory service in an unfamiliar ward with unfamiliar "clients" (the newer, more PC term for the people formally referred to as "patients", but since mental retardation was not an illness, that label was deemed inappropriate.)

I was normally assigned to Ward 1.

Ward 1 was populated by about 8 men ranging in age from 20 or so to 50. All were diagnosed as DSM-II classification : Profound. Which meant that they were on a scale of 1 to 10 of retarded-ness, with 10 being the smartest and 1 being the dumbest, roughly a 2. Some of the staff disliked assignments with these types because it meant a lot of really menial things like toilet training, cleaning up bed-wetting and "number 2" accidents, spoon-feeding, and virtually no interaction with the non-verbal clients. This was considered demeaning by many of the male staff. But for some of us, myself included, we much preferred this to the alternative in our building...Ward 2, the other male ward.

The problem was that they were smarter in Ward 2, and, being mainly dual-diagnosed, more mentally ill than mentally retarded. And they were prone to much more violent outbursts of aggression.

Ward 2 also housed D Buildings most aggressive resident...Arthur Ancanachio.

The stories were plentiful:

"Did you hear about the time he put that guy in the hospital?"

"I heard he ripped a guy's arm off with his bare hands!"

"Don't you know he killed three guys with a hidden plastic knife? Slashed their throats!"

"I heard it was six guys! All at once!"

So it was with these obvious, yet still disturbing hyperboles on my mind that I nervously entered through the heavy steel, double-locked doors of Wrentham's most notorious ward for what would no doubt be a long shift.

The ward currently housed only one man, Arthur, but his staff ratio was 4:1. That's right, 4 trained adult men supervising one client. But what a client he was.

To say Arthur was huge would be an understatement. He towered above even my 6 foot 1 inch height by about 8 more inches, and due to a combination of genetics and constantly recurring states of physical agitation brought on by severe schizo-affected disorder, he was solid as a brick house.

He sat in the corner of the spartan ward, furnished with only a couple of chairs made of solid foam rubber, specially made for psych wards, and watched cartoons playing on a TV housed in a steel mesh cage bolted high up on the wall. Arthur didn't interact with anyone unless it was going to be bad for you. His similarly soft-sided bed was on the other side of the large room behind a couple of portable partitions. Staff were instructed to not look him in the eyes as this could set him off. We were supposed to stand the entire shift and maintain a distance of about 5 feet from him unless we had to move in for a PMAB maneuver...basically a multi-man hold to immobilize him. This would be used the second any staff recognized an antecedent. An antecedent was any known behavior that had been recorded in his records to have been a precursor to injurious behavior to himself. The antecedent could be as seemingly benign and almost undetectable as a simple eye-blinking pattern, or even a certain grin.

Since Arthur was so frequently violent towards staff, and he had such strength and mass, the policy to do a 4 man restraint was ONLY if he were about to injure himself. Which, since there just wasn't anything available for him to use to do so, was quite rare. The procedure that was followed if he bolt towards one of us was to evacuate the ward and monitor him on the closed circuit TV in another room, providing clear views of his actions from the two installed cameras high up near the ceiling.

I got through most of the shift including the tense mealtime and ADLs (showertime) when potentially dangerous implements such as plastic eating utensils and even bars of soap came into play.

But around 9:30 or so, as Arthur was about to get ready for bed, he decided to strike.

By this time of night, we staff had let our guard down since our charge had been so well-behaved all evening. Two of the other staff were out of the ward on cigarette breaks and the other guy and I were sitting not too far from Arthur, he watching TV (which we had by now ignored rules and switched to a program of our choosing) and I reading a book..."Noble House" by James Clavell.

Arthur jumped at me and caught me in his enormous hands. He grabbed but luckily I was wearing a loose sweater and despite my co-worker and I trying to free me, his grip was resolute. I had to wiggle out of the sweater to escape. We watched the on TV monitor from the other room. Arthur, frustrated at not having people to rip apart, proceeded to tear my sweater to shreds. He also picked up the book I'd dropped and ripped it to pieces.

Thankfully the next night I was not re-assigned to Ward 2. And from then on, I stayed with my bumbling and lovable drooling guys, never having to face the terrors of Arthur again.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Babel Fish Epic Fail

Some guys at work were playing a web-based strategy game while on break from our training. I asked what site they were on and, of course, immediately forgot it. But the site looked cool as it seemed to be a map-based strategy game available free on the web. There are a ton of them out there though and as I tried this weekend to search for their game site, I came across some interesting alternatives including this indecipherable site perhaps a review of a strategy game in the vein of the well-known Koei "Romance of the Three Kingdom" video games. No doubt, this "English version" of the presumably Chinese original interview is cryptically bizarre to say the least. I like to think that though my English grammar has a bit to be desired, at least it isn't as screwy as this:

The audience much sought after recent large-scale web game, "SanGuoFengyun" Although the strategy and the main, but with the current market compared to the similar web games, "SanGuoFengyun" design more humane, to the audience. Play the game to the extreme, strategic and tactical issue is particularly important. Based on the overwhelming majority of the players concerned, I recently took a lot of problems, an interview with the "SanGuoFengyun" the senior players totototo. Below the interview notes, let the totototo teach us how the game should be devised strategies to an enemy 1000!

Issue a reporter: tototo Hello, this is the player with a lot of the issues raised to interview you. I hope you give us a lot of good play on the "SanGuoFengyun" a number of small skills.

Tototo: Good morning, I am also very pleased to be able to take this opportunity and a lot of people exchanges.

Question 2 Reporter: First of all I am very curious, now at home and abroad so the page number of games, totototo was first exposed to how this "SanGuoFengyun"? » What is your final decision to carry one vote Sidang massive stationed in the final choice of "SanGuoFengyun"?


totototo: the causes of someone in the game I was in charge of the Forum on advertising, and then I happened to be a moderator, Shantie of the way into the next…… read stationed in the three countries said to a lot of reasons, such as the "SanGuoFengyun" have a new Gaming platform, innovative system, the official also more sincere. Play the game, of course, not only to open a simple, to play a good, there are a lot of work to do behind. Of course, the prerequisite is certainly need for the games themselves are fully understood.


3 Reporter: You left the game for the first impression is what » Remember?


totototo: give people the feeling fresh and full of local flavor, there are many innovative elements. No traditional online games magnificent game of the game screen, but to have more tactical skills, a greater variety of games, the better the interaction between allies.

Well, you get the idea. It goes on and on from there. What does it mean?

Well, let's just Babel Fish it back and find out! Here it is:

观众追寻的最近大规模网比赛, " SanGuoFengyun" 虽然战略和扼要,但是与当前市场与相似的网比赛比较了, " SanGuoFengyun" 设计更加人道,对观众此款戏剧比赛对极端,战略,并且作战问题是特别重要的。 基于球员的决大多数有关,我最近采取了很多问题,与"的一次采访; SanGuoFengyun" 资深球员totototo。 在采访笔记之下,让totototo教我们比赛怎么应该是构想的战略到一敌对1000年! 发布一位记者: tototo你好,这是有提出的很多问题的球员采访您。 我希望您给我们在"的很多好戏剧; SanGuoFengyun" 一定数量的小技能。 Tototo : 早晨好,我也是非常喜悦能采取这个机会和很多人交换。 问题2记者: 首先我是非常好奇的,现在国内外,因此比赛的页数, totototo怎样首先被暴露了在这" SanGuoFengyun" ? ”什么是您的运载一表决Sidang巨型的最终决策驻防在"最后的选择; SanGuoFengyun" ? ” totototo : 某人的起因比赛的我是负责关于做广告的论坛,我然后偶然是一位调解人,方式的Shantie到......读的下里驻防在三个国家对很多原因说,例如" SanGuoFengyun" 也有一个新的赌博平台,创新系统,更加恳切的官员。 打比赛,当然,不仅打开简单,播放好,那里是要做的很多工作后边。 当然,前提是对比赛的需要充分地一定被了解。 3记者: 您留下第一次印刷的比赛是什么”记住? ” totototo : 给人们新鲜的感觉,并且有很多地方味道,有许多创新元素。 没有比赛屏幕的传统网上游戏壮观的比赛,但是有更加作战的技能,玩法比赛更加巨大的品种,越好盟友之间的互作用。

Oh brother! Where's that Star Trek style "Universal Translator" technology?! Let's get on it techy people! C'mon, get to it! Chop, chop!

Oh, but wait, maybe the original was actually Japanese? Oh man!

Sorry Douglas Adams, "I DON'T got the Babel Fish!"