Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Books Having Personal Ads


Leelu had the brilliant idea of writing personal ads for library books, to put on a display to draw attention to and encourage use of books in the 800s. Literature and poetry don't circulate all that much and, at least in my library, are mostly ignored by patrons unless they are working on a project for an English or writing class. People only read the 800s if their grade depends on it. While brainstorming, she came up with the personal ad concept, and before I could protest, she assigned to me the task of writing this ad and then left. Sneaky Leelu.


The following are ads I came up with, and while they might work, perhaps you guys can come up with something truly brilliant.

This is what I have so far.

    Classic book seeks reader. I’m looking for someone who is into my wardrobe of leather, and will help me keep my binding nice and tight. Feel free to devour me and then share me with your friends.

    Classic book seeks reader. I like long, lazy afternoons at the beach, curling up in front of a roaring fire, a romantic restaurant for just the two of us, and traveling anywhere interesting, as long as I’m with you.

    Classic book seeks reader. Don’t judge me by my cover. I’ve been accused of looking a little dog-eared, but you should read between the lines – I’m all substance. Let's go on an adventure together!

    Library book seeks reader. No long-term commitment necessary -- I’m too free-spirited to be tied down. Take me home, have your way with me, and then bring me back for the next person to enjoy. There’s plenty of me to go around.

And while we’re at it, if you have a section of books for sale at your library like we do, some of my coworkers and I came up with this one.

    Orphaned book needs reader. If you adopt me today, I will be your most appreciative and loyal book. I’ll always be happy that you picked me up, I’ll melt in your hands, I’ll tell you great stories, and I’m the best listener you’ll ever know. People and pets will come and go from your life, but I will always be there for you. Please give me a forever home.
I'm sure each area could have designated ads, kind of like "Take me to your leader" style for SciFi, and maybe something in lolcat for the teens, but we're trying to create an appeal to the 800s. Any ideas?

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Need a Twelve Step Program -- Quick!

I fear that I am becoming a bird nerd. This is a sad day for me because I always envisioned bird nerds as plump, elderly, whitest of white folks, wearing plaid Bermudas, floral shirts, a big floppy hat, and a raging farmer's tan, running gracelessly amongst the trees with their binoculars bouncing on their chest, while they chase a bird no one has heard of, acting as if they have found the fountain of youth.

"HARRIET! LOOK! It's the pink-toed wormburglar! It's sitting on a branch! OHMYGOD, I cannot believe we finally found a pink-toed wormburglar! Scratch that off our list, Harriet! The guys back at the Bird Nerd Club will not believe this!"

No, no, no. Not me. That can't happen to me.

Yet, there I was today, at a dam on the Fox River, sitting on a bench, watching the family of ducks wading nearby. There were about a dozen men fishing a few feet away, and I was trying hard to ignore them, with their loud voices, all the cigarette smoke, and the gruesome behavior of hauling up their catch and then clubbing it to death. While sitting there, I noticed two large birds sitting on the top branches of a dead tree that protruded from a small island in the river. This is a waterfowl sanctuary, and I'm accustomed to seeing herons, cranes and ducks, who dominate the area, but these creatures atop the tree were not any of the birds I was familiar with.

As I was taking pictures of the birds, something clicked on in my head, and the bird nerd inside me came alive.

They have webbed feet and short, hooked bills like ducks. Stocky bodies, too. But they're tall and have slender necks and heads like herons. The hooked bill is probably so they can eat vegetation, but the neck area was elastic-y, like a pelican's, and it looked like these birds were fish eaters as well. Something between a duck and a heron. What's between a duck and a heron?

DUDE! I'm not a bird nerd! Yet, onward I went.

Weird how they're all black. I've seen solid black ducks and dark feathered herons, but this is still totally different. Too big for a night heron. Oh, is that orange near the bill? What the heck has bald, orange skin near the bill and is solid black everywhere else? I have to know what that bird is!

And so I took these pictures, which are very bad because I refused to unload the tripod and get a clearer shot. They were kinda far away.

I was actually so frustrated with the mystery bird and my own fascination with the bird that I ended up giving myself a headache and leaving. When I got home I looked it up on What Bird and discovered I had seen two double-crested cormorants! Now I'm embracing my bird nerditude a little because I cannot remember ever seeing a cormorant before, and I simply must put this on my list at eBird.

I'm such a dork.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What a Family!

Have you ever known something about someone else that they didn't know you know, and it made you proud of them, but since you're not supposed to know, you can't tell them?

Anyway, my brother is a very talented artist, and he mentioned that he has a DeviantArt account where he posts his stuff, but he never gave me the link. Curiosity got the best of me and I went hunting for him. After hours of sifting through the ba-jillions of stuff on the site, I found him thanks to pictures he included that I took of what he did to Doggie Extraordinaire recently, with the T-shirt.

He's good. I'm telling you, he's got some talent. Not only is he the kind of person who reads books about mathematical theories (for fun!!), and scientific discoveries, the history of mankind, religious theories, and anything else the average person wants to have nothing to do with, he is also the biggest movie buff I've ever known. He can tell you about directors and actors you've never heard of, and all the weird movies they've made, and all this stuff is stored up there in his head somewhere, which isn't even accessible by the general public because he hardly talks to anyone outside our house. And he fucking draws like nothing I've ever seen up close before! He's a complicated person who some days I don't begin to understand and some days I recognize more of myself in him than anyone else on earth. He cracks me up, he makes me think, he infuriates me, and mostly, he makes me wish I knew how to help him be a happier, more confident person. Siblings are strange creatures. Particularly because I've never said any of that to him.

So, the other day we were having a conversation about him seeing Sweeney Todd for the first time, and how much he loved it, but I never thought he'd draw it. I guess he's inspired by things I'm not even aware of.

You've gotta see this:

You Shall Drip Rubies

He has other great drawings, but this one hit me hard.

Don't tell him I posted this. We're not the kind of siblings who gush emotions to one another. But I gush on the inside.

There are tons of people walking around everyday without an ounce of talent in them, and they succeed all over, brag about their accomplishments, pretend to be a misunderstood artist, and really don't have a fraction of the skill and passion for anything that he does, sitting in his room, reading about where the universe got its start, drawing pictures of people and situations that are as complex as he is. He gets stuff that the rest of the world walks by and doesn't even stop to think about. In that way I think he and I are similar. I take pictures and he draws, but we both look deeper at things other people don't even acknowledge and we're affected by them.

I flatter myself by saying we're similar. I may be the more productive and successful of us, but he has far more talent and intelligence than I will ever have. Maybe one day I'll be able to tell him.

Monday, July 21, 2008

No Greater Exodus In History

The Crackhead has left the building!

Much to my surprise, she moved out about two weeks ago because all of her utilities had been shut off, one by one, over the course of a week, and when the weather got hot, she abandoned the house to stay with a friend. She also left behind her three cats and her 20-year-old daughter. The daughter finally moved out Saturday, but she, too, left the cats behind.

Crackhead’s Daughter knew someone who was friends with movers, and the movers packed up her stuff and took her to the new place as a favor to the mutual friend. The guys were not shy about what they found in that house. When I left my place on Saturday, one of the guys had picked up a box of books in the garage, but he couldn’t get halfway down the driveway with it before he dropped it and started gagging violently. The books in the box shared their space with thousands of maggots, and when he lifted it up, maggots fell out of the small holes in the box, and it took him about three full minutes of fiercely shaking his hands while shuddering from head to toe before he convinced himself that there were no more maggots on him. He looked at us looking back at him in horror and he announced, right in front of Crackhead’s Daughter, that he’s seen a lot of disgusting houses, things he couldn’t even talk about, and this was the second worst house he’d ever moved. He said he might never feel clean again. Then he frantically started screaming about what the hell maggots would be doing in a box of books. Crackhead’s Daughter didn’t say a word, just hung her head.

When I came home many hours later, the movers were gone, as were the humans, but the three cats sat in the upstairs windows that were left open, and meowing like crazy. No one knows if anyone in the Crackhead Family left them food or water. Police were called, but said they couldn’t come out to remove the pets unless someone was in the house to let them in. What? Since when? That’s not what I see on Animal Cops!

The absentee landlord lives in Florida and owns about two dozen houses in my subdivision, all of which he rents to out as Section 8 housing. They are all problems, but my neighbors took the cake. He evicted Crackhead in May, but out of the kindness of his heart (cough, sputter) allowed her to find a place to live before hiring someone to heave out all her shit. Isn’t that nice? Nice, considering he’s refused to respond to the hundreds of complaints from neighbors and the association, that start out begging and end up threatening him if he doesn’t do something about Crackhead. Finally he gave her the heave-ho. It’s been 12 years of suffering.

Today was the heaving day.

An industrial-sized dumpster sits on the lawn that we share, and it is full to the tippy top of some of the foulest smelling garbage you’ve ever suffered. There was a solitary man hired to dump all the detritus left behind, and he too was not shy about complaining to the spectators about what he found inside. A minimum of two animal corpses were found in the house, so decomposed that they weren’t identifiable as cat or dog, and one is beneath a refrigerator in the garage that the dumper didn’t get to yet. There were some pieces of furniture that were put in the dumpster, which were soaked through and through with urine, and stained with mysterious substances that one didn’t even want to imagine. The smell of ammonia was so strong it would make your eyes water if you were downwind. Without the ammonia on the wind, the pungent, ever-present stench was that of rot. Food, flesh, feces, or anything carbon-based rotted in that home for years, and the fetid odor now sits outside in a dumpster, less than 10 feet from my windows. However, by and large, the majority of what the dumper found in the home and garage was a collection of garbage, bagged up and piled to the ceiling, probably dating back a year or more. Crackhead had stopped paying for her garbage pickup and just kept the garbage in the house. This is an improvement from the time period when she stacked it up in 5-foot piles against the back of her garage until her entire yard was covered in bags of garbage, and the village would do nothing about it. Only the landlord threatening to evict her got her to clean up the yard, and she took carloads of garbage bags, some that had broke open and were seeping decayed waste, and she left them in dumpsters behind various local businesses in the middle of the night. After that she must have started piling them in the garage, and when the garage was full, she piled them in the house.

The dumper got to the house early this morning and called the police immediately to come for the cats. The dispatcher said someone would be there before 3:30 that afternoon (because that’s when he told them he was leaving), but no one ever showed up by 5:30 when he actually left. No one showed up at all.

I don’t know what must be worse for those cats. Living in that landfill with people for companionship, and perhaps some food and water occasionally; or living in the house after it’s been gutted of most of the filth, with no companionship or sustenance. I’m thinking the former. And I’m also thinking that they probably won’t live much longer if the dumper didn’t think to leave them some clean water.

But, at least three of their other four-legged roommates had died in that house, never to be removed, and I know damn well if they were humans, they’d be so psychologically damaged that they might not ever be adoptable. Who knows what kind of diseases they carry, too. I just don’t want to know. Yet, if the police do not remove those cats tomorrow, I’m going to start calling for reinforcement from other agencies to put pressure on them. I drove home tonight and three squad cars were sitting at the local bank clocking speeders and talking, even though the dispatcher said they were too busy to pick up the cats. Not acceptable.

Obviously there have been years and years of egregious behavior on the part of the officials whose jobs dictated that they wrangle up people like Crackhead, and make them responsible for their actions. From the police, to the village, to the landlord, and all the governmental agencies that did surprise inspections of that house to ensure that her benefits should continue, they all failed so epically here that it just seems like an apathetic punctuation mark at the end of long era of not giving a shit. Yep. Cats. Left alone in the pit. No one came for them. The end.

But it’s not the end. And I’ll fight to get someone to try to rescue those cats. They deserve better than this, even if it’s months of medical care followed by a life in a cage at a shelter, awaiting adoption.

And I’ll fight harder if they renovate that house and rent it to another crackhead.

This is a legacy that needs to die.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Animals are More Interesting Than People

This is the second time I've found this monkey sitting at the top of his enclosure with a Pooh washcloth on his head. I think he either sits too close to the lights and is trying to prevent scalpburn, or he is a typical prima donna primate looking for some extra attention by putting on a sad show.

The petting zoo has an inhabitant named Elizabeth the cow, and after a rain, she tries really hard to lick the wet spots to try to dry herself out. Some wet spots are hard to reach. Through giggles, I shot this picture and even the zookeeper incredulously demanded, "You're taking a picture of a cow licking her butt?!" To this I answered in the affirmative and laughed so hard that Elizabeth looked at me and then turned around.

I just know that this orangutan was reading The Secret, and even if it was a library book, I can't blame him for his sentiment.

Some of the best people I know are animals.

At It Again

One of my coworkers was kind enough to offer to work for me today, given how damn few Saturdays I ever have off, so I jumped at the opportunity. It wasn't until later that I realized it is the fourth anniversary of my father's death, and I found my mother moping around the house, looking forlorn. After smacking her around and shaking some life back into her (not really, but I wanted to), I decided to take her to the zoo. The zoo was fun, but given that it rained quite a bit last night and this morning, and the humidity was somewhere around 100%, tiny raindrops were still clinging to every surface. BONUS!

This is partially why I love rain so much. Water makes everything prettier.

Tabblo: Wet Cosmos

Tabblo: Wet Lilies

Tabblo: Wet Greenery

And I have A-V Boy to thank for it all! Thanks for selling me on the idea of getting a macro lens! And inspiring me to shoot water droplets!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Energy Crisis Solved!

The other day I had a conversation with a friend that somehow spiraled into the worst giggle-fest I’ve experienced. We were both wheezing from laughter about 5 minutes into it, and I thought I’d share it to illustrate how stupid and juvenile I really am.

For reasons I don’t know, masturbation was the subject.

Me: Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow harvest the energy people create when they masturbate? You just know that there are some people out there who could power small cities on their own.

Him: That would be awesome! I read somewhere that the human body generates something like 8 kilowatt hours of energy doing nothing, but tossing one off must create something like eleven-hundred kilowatt hours!

Me: I’ll bet some people create more. Imagine how cool it would be if you just had to give yourself an orgasm everyday to power your own home. Really ambitious people could sell their energy for those who can’t get it up anymore.

Him: There would never be an energy crisis again!

Me: You’re out somewhere and the power suddenly goes out. Someone just has to shout out, “Quick, everyone, drop trou!”

At this point we were almost in hysterics. He said things I couldn’t understand either because I was laughing too hard to hear, or his words just weren’t being enunciated through his own laughter. I think he was talking about spreading this theory as truth through email.

Him: Imagine the email and blond jokes if they thought it was true! Of course, blonds get the email and they don’t check anything out on Snopes. Everytime a light went off somewhere, they’d call a friend and have a masturbation session to save the electricity! But they wouldn’t know the difference between the power being out or someone just turning off a light.

Me: OH! Blinking Christmas lights would totally throw them off! Rub – stop – rub – stop – rub.

After that we were choking and sputtering and gasping for air. My ribs hurt and I had to beg for a change of conversation to recover.

It would be great if the average 13-year-old boy could earn his keep by doing what comes natural. And porn surfers could create this endless loop of powering their computer to surf porn, masturbate, and then power their computer to surf more porn. Think of all the worthless people who have nothing to contribute to this world – they would suddenly have value!

I certainly hope that scientists are working on this. With both hands.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Me vs. Evil

He is evil and he wants to destroy me.

People were so pleased that he came into my life because I was finally making some kind of positive step in the right direction that basically included anything other than sitting around reading books or writing blog posts about my silly thoughts or boring life. Anything would have been an improvement, but he was supposed to be a huge improvement.

I did not have room in my life for him, at first. It took a lot of rearranging to find the time and space to allow for his presence. Then came the family drama that kept me from him. Now there is nothing standing between us but my free will, and I’m finding that he is making it very difficult not to just run away crying.

He doesn’t like me. He wants to punish me and he enjoys the concept of causing me pain. Mostly, he wants me to go away, so he thinks that torturing me will accomplish his goal.

Being the stubborn and thick-headed person that I am, we are horn-locked in a battle of wills, and I cannot allow myself to ease off first.

So, I go out there, in the garage, sometimes early in the day, sometimes late in the day, and I stare him down. He laughs at me, as if to ask me if I am back for more, and I always reply that yes, I am back for more, and I will continue coming back for more so he might as well get used to me. And then the mêlée begins.

I’m ready. Socks and gym shoes, squeeze-the-life-out-of-my-girls sports bra, ugly shorts, hair in a ponytail, and clenched fists. We’re going to do this and it isn’t going to be pretty.

Everything is plugged in, everything is secure, and so I step up into position and flip the switch.

The belt starts to roll backwards as I prepare to step upon the moving surface. The pace is perfectly timed, doesn’t vary, and the whole treadmill appears to be this benign entity, but I know what an evil piece of machinery he really is. I know that despite the instructions stating flatly that each gear has a fixed pace, he will vary that speed and send me into a sudden quickening pace, or slow down to a near crawl. Somehow he releases a hallucinogenic gas that makes witnesses blind to these variances, and they tell me I’m nuts for thinking the machine speed changes. They can see nothing. Are they in on the evil plan or is his power of persuasion that strong?

If you ignore the changes in the speed, which he reserves strictly for when I use him, then there’s the issue with incline. He is designed with a 15% incline that is not adjustable, but after a while of walking with the irregularity of the belt’s speed, it also suddenly feels steeper. Somehow, the steel legs that keep the treadmill stable will grow in the front only, creating at least a 30% grade instead of the 15 I am accustomed to. My calves start to burn and I lean forward to acclimatize to the new incline, and then I lose my balance for reasons I still cannot grasp. How does he manage this incline that other people cannot detect? Why is he trying so hard to break me?

Perhaps the worst thing he does is screw with my brain. The gas he releases to fool witnesses into believing that he is not speeding up and slowing down, nor is he rearing up in the front to make my workout more unpleasant, but this gas lulls me into a false sense of security. My pulse isn’t racing, but it does speed up. I’m not sweating profusely, but perspiring a little. My calves burn, but I do not feel like my legs cannot go on. I push on because the battle is fierce and to wear me out quickly would be anticlimactic for him.

Yet, my brain still has some semblance of control, and I look at the timer to see that I’ve been hauling ass on this machine for quite some time, so I likely need to take a break for some water and stretching.

I turn the switch off and the evil starts to settle all around.

Suddenly I’m aware that I cannot catch my breath, my head has begun to sweat profusely, and my legs have turned to molten lava. The burning in my calves is so intense that I actually grasp them as if I could put out the internal fire with my kneading thumbs. I look back at the treadmill and he is looking quite smug. He feels that he has won another round because he is unhindered by the encounter, yet I am now crippled.

We will have a rematch tomorrow. And everyday from now on. And we will see who is smug in the long run.

I limp into the house and collapse on the couch with a tumbler of ice water the size of a small barrel. I have always known that walking was the one thing I could do forever, leaving many people doubled over and exhausted in my dust. Why am I so exhausted after so short a period of time on a walking machine?

Boyfriend Extraordinaire can run circles around me in every physical challenge we encounter, but I can out walk him each and every time. Without so much as a sore leg muscle or aching foot, I walk miles and miles on trails we hike, having to stop to wait for him to catch up, and the end of the adventure leaves me feeling as lazy and normal as any inactive day, but he is sprawled out and moaning about his swollen and agonizing feet, his calves and ankle muscles that won’t stop seizing up on him, and he begs for an easier day tomorrow. Pshaw! This is the one thing I can do well. I cannot climb rocks or trees, I cannot row a boat, I cannot swim or run for more than a laughable distance, and I can’t even throw with any kind of skill. I have no strength. I will never be an athlete. I have no endurance in any sport, and almost as little aptitude for anything remotely skillful. But dammit, I can walk! Truthfully, I can walk on even surfaces forever, but uphill kills me. I try to avoid the hilly hikes just because it fucks with my hiking confidence, but walking I can and will do for unbelievable distances, regularly.

Now why on earth this stupid treadmill flattens me after less than 15 minutes walking at a medium pace just baffles me!

There is evil at work here.

I will continue to fight the good fight, but it would be nice to get to the core of the evil possessing my treadmill and have some kind of exorcism.

Exorcise for exercise.

If you read in the paper or hear on the news about a woman found dead, wrapped in a reality-defying knot of flesh and machinery in her garage, you will know that my battle ended in a draw. Barring the draw, I shall prevail. Oh yes, I will beat the evil treadmill.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Today I had a conversation with a woman from Peru, who was quite intelligent and interesting to talk to. Something that she said struck me hard and really made me think.

For a long time, I’ve blamed the horrible economy and the extreme disparity between the rich and poor on three super-powerful entities: pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, and oil companies. Health insurance companies don’t go under very often when compared with other industries. They pay out fractions of what they’re billed, they force the insured to pay unreasonable percentages of the bills and force them to jump through sometimes fatal hoops to get the coverage they’re entitled to, and they charge us obscene amounts in premiums. This drives up the cost of benefits for employers, and they pay the employees less as well as forcing them to contribute to the premiums, which is in addition to the medical bills employees end up having to pay. In turn, people are not getting the preventive care they should because they cannot afford it, and when they do get a diagnosis, they can’t afford the treatment. These days, we also have to worry that a diagnosis can actually effect our ability to have future coverage, too. I don’t have to touch on the astronomical costs of medications in the U.S., which are unjustly inflated for Americans. And I know I don’t have to launch into any kind of sermon about how much money the oil companies make for no reason other than because they can charge anything they want, and we’ll pay it. We experience and see this everyday.

So, as I was sitting there, chatting with this Peruvian woman who has recently immigrated to the U.S., she seemed to be trying to figure out the American psyche with the questions she asked me, and with each answer I gave, I was cognizant of the representative role I played the opinion she was forming of whatever group I represented to her. We discussed racism in the country, as well as in our modest little suburb, compared and contrasted it with what we both had experienced living in Chicago, and how difficult it is for immigrants these days to be treated by strangers with any decorum or respect. This led me to ask her a question about an article I read in a forgotten newspaper recently.

What I remembered reading was an article that cited that there is an exodus of native Mexicans returning to Mexico after coming to America for a “better life”. The article subjectively listed first that the economy here has prompted many people to return to the countries they left for similar reasons just a few years or decades earlier, like jobs are no longer abundant and the cost of living is so high. As secondary and tertiary reasons for the unprecedented return to Mexico, were the fears of deportation and the dubious future they have of ever being granted citizenship. We’re not necessarily talking about illegal immigrants here, either. Many legal citizens are going BACK to Mexico for a “better life”, and what reasons they give may or may not be what is being reported. I have my doubts. I’d venture a guess that yes, jobs are scarcer, money doesn’t go as far, and becoming a citizen is a process few will accomplish after paying heaps of money for many years, all the while paying taxes and supporting the U.S. economy. But I would put a lot of emphasis on the overall hatred and hostility that is aimed directly at the Mexican border, and anyone with an Hispanic-sounding name, or tan or olive skin is being accused of being an illegal alien at every turn in this country. Our country is downright despicable in the way we treat anyone we suspect might be Hispanic. Could it be that maybe they’re leaving because we’ve threatened them, treated them horribly, and made them feel unwelcome in every way, in every area, including dragging out the citizenship process for Spanish-speakers that greatly exceeds the length of time it takes for someone to become naturalized from Europe or Asia? My money is on blatant hatred they see on a regular basis, which only exacerbates the economic woes.

I’ve learned very quickly that the American public believes some very different things than the rest of the world. You get together a room full of immigrants from a variety of countries around the world and you ask them who was behind the attacks on 9/11. You’ll be very surprised who everyone blames. I won’t name names because I’ll likely be accused of being a conspiracy theorist or un-American for spreading this hearsay, but let’s just say that after November, the lame duck they blame won’t be as powerful anymore. So, when I brought up this article I read to this very bright Peruvian woman, she started talking about all the different news channels she watches regularly, including all the local ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates, the national news channels, and the international news channels, which was the groundwork she laid before she answered my question about what she thought of how much truth there was to this article.

That’s when she hit me with something I hadn’t thought about.

She mentioned the hundreds of raids taking place at companies, factories, and various places of business, where everyone on staff is checked for citizenship, and truckloads of illegals are carted off, taken to jail, and after two – three months of jail time, they are released and immediately deported. These raids go on constantly, she assured me. The American news does not report this. However, if she watches the news on Univision or Telemundo, she can see just how many people are being deported all around the country, everyday. It’s sad and frightening, even to people who are citizens or who are going through the process. These are their family members, friends, and neighbors. You never know who is just going to disappear on any given day.

Now, after these raids started becoming common, something else happened at the companies that employed illegals. Um, well, duh – they couldn’t employ illegals anymore. Which meant that they had to hire people legally and pay higher salaries, as well as the appropriate employment taxes. Many businesses have gone under because of this, and the rest have raised what they charge to consumers for their various services or products, and this contributes to the outrageous inflation. So, essentially, what the stupid racists in the U.S. have long thought, that illegals come here and go on Welfare or other government subsidies, draining money out of our pockets via our taxes, well, they’re still stupid racists because they’re absolutely backwards. Our economy thrives with illegals working illegally at places we do business with because employing them keeps prices down. Let’s not even discuss the costs we’re investing in these raids, in the court costs, incarceration, and then shipping people back to their homelands. At some point, you’ve got to step back and take a good, hard look at the costs and the benefits.

I’m not promoting breaking the law, ignoring the proper immigration process, and allowing employers to get away with not paying employment taxes on people who they aren’t supposed to hire. This isn’t even to even mention the moral issues of hiring people for pay lower than minimum wage and denying them benefits and tax rights like Unemployment, Workers Compensation, and everything else that labor laws are set up to ensure. C’mon now, you all should know me better than to think I’d encourage the breaking of numerous laws set up to protect EVERYONE involved. Not happening here, folks. But what this woman brought to my attention was how much of an enormous impact the aggressive deportation of illegals is having on our economy, and for the first time ever, I’m starting to see that maybe I cannot blame all my woes on the three aforementioned super-powers.

Just when I thought she was done making my brain expand, she started talking about China, and the economic powerhouse they are quickly becoming. She asked me how their economy was able to grow so much. I saw where she was going, nodded and conceded that cheap labor does wonders for the economy. She pointed out the pattern in other countries, which are growing and also notorious for their cheap labor. She paused and then continued to add that when people immigrate to the U.S. illegally, they’re not competing with Americans for jobs. Americans won’t do the jobs illegals do, particularly for the money these employers are offering. Illegals do factory work, agricultural work, garbage work, clean-up work, and all the other tasks that we think we’re above. They work their asses off, they don’t complain, and often they have two or three jobs to make ends meet, all hard labor work. But if the government forcefully removes them from these jobs, we have fewer people in the U.S. willing to do this work for such meager earnings, and that’s when many of these companies raise their prices enormously. When that doesn’t solve problems, they take their business and their jobs, uproot, and go to other countries for cheaper labor. And we all hate the fact that so many companies are moving their entire operation or portions of their operation to other countries. This trickling effect is slamming our country right now, and average citizens aren’t even talking about it.

Not on the NBC, CBS, ABC or any of the national news channels do they mention any of this, but my Peruvian acquaintance pointed out that this is what’s being talked about in other countries, being reported on international news networks, and some of the attitude is that we’re getting what we deserve.

Not me, I yell! I’m not one of them!

It’s hard for me to swallow because so often I feel like this entire country has gone mad and I’m alone, standing there with my arms outstretched, demanding to know what the fuck is wrong with my countrymen and am I the only one who is currently ashamed to be part of the human race. I don’t support the war, the current president, conventional wisdom, or the people in this country trying to deny global warming, like the holocaust deniers who refuse to see the facts. I’m not one of them! I don’t support massive deportation and raids on businesses. I also don’t support just turning a blind eye to broken laws. What I do support is the concept of developing a new plan that isn’t so goddamn inhumane, which I have not run across yet. Someone somewhere is smart enough to come up with an idea that actually sounds civilized, right? RIGHT? WHERE ARE YOU? SPEAK UP! Where is our humanity?! Beyond the immigration problems, there can’t be a quick fix for our economy, either. Theorists are foretelling that the economy will miraculously right itself, and many prognosticators even name a specific month when this upturn will occur, while others are doomsday believers who have started building a hut and caching non-perishables. Much faith is being placed in people’s presidential candidate of choice, but I think that’s largely naïve. I’m even starting to believe that the next elected president can’t even hope to turn things around in his term, and we haven’t begun to bottom out yet. That’s the pessimist in me talking. But I haven’t built a hut or started storing my canned foods, so don’t lock me up in that padded room just yet.

It’s always eye-opening and thought-provoking to have conversations with people who do not derive all of their opinions about world and national affairs by what the biased American news reports. We are most often sheep, and sometimes we fail to recognize how sheep-like we have become until we run into someone with a view from a different angle. Even if you don’t agree with anything you read in any paragraph of this post, you have to admit that it’s quite interesting to know that people are thinking this about us, and maybe, just maybe, we’re a little too wrapped up in the drama of being Americans to see what being an American means to people who aren’t.

And there are far more people who are not Americans in this world.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


How long can someone survive with only 3.25 ounces of blood left in her body? That might be a high-end estimate. I think I might have less.

After I put my dinner in the oven, there was some thunder rumbling in the distance, and those of you who have a dog know that as soon as the weather threatens to get bad, the damn dog announces frantically that he must pee. This means you have to put on whatever protective gear you can find to deal not only with the inclement weather, but find the cloth leash (because chains in a lightning storm are unwise), put on shoes that easily slide on and off to protect you from standing on escaping worms, yet will protect your feet from the rain and puddles, and throwing on that rubber parka, even though it's 80º outside, to keep your pajama top and work slacks (because you've only had time to half-change clothes since arriving home) from getting drenched in the downpour. You take the dog out, and though it's not raining quite yet, it will be in a moment, which the dog doesn't understand. He decides this is a grand time to run full-force down the street and go for a high-speed, high-impact run around the subdivision, which almost dislocates your shoulder before you get him back under control. Well, somewhat. Finally he pees, and while his bladder unloads an unbelievably large load of liquid, you notice the lightning is quite dramatic and tell the damn dog to hurry the hell up, perhaps curse him a little bit for saving up his pee all day for this storm.

Yeah, well, all that is quite annoying, but for some reason, despite the danger I thought I was in while the dog was peeing, I actually went inside and grabbed my camera so I could return to the imminent storm and take lightning shots before the deluge began. Uh-huh. With a big metal tripod. And a mostly metal camera. In the middle of a field. With lightning. And I call the dog stupid.

My pictures weren't all that great because there were far too many clouds hiding the lightning, but three of the pics showed little fizzles of lightning. Okay, maybe you'll have to click to embiggen them to see the lightning, but it's there -- I swear!

All artists sacrifice a little of themselves for their art, right?

For me, it was my blood.

At 10 p.m., with an impending storm, every single mosquito in the Tri-State area heard the news that there was a juicy human standing outside taking pictures, and the swarm commenced. They were all over me in a way that I've never experienced before. They were in my ears, on my lips, up my shirt sleeves, between my toes, and in other unmentionable areas that had me wiggling like Jell-o. I even had an Æon Flux moment where I trapped one between my eyelashes, Venus-flytrap-style. It's very hard to hold still for 5- and 10-second shutter speeds when bugs are in your hair, up your nose, and under your arms, biting and sucking your blood. Somehow I managed to take 175 pictures, though. Do the math. I was out there for quite a while, bleeding to death into small siphons of thousands of insects looking to use my life to further their own species. Fuckers! And all I had to show for it was these three photos with tiny little fizzles of lightning.

Even the dog thought I was nuts. When I went back inside, pale and near death, he looked at me as if to say, "You know, if we'd been on that sprint around the subdivision, they never would've caught up to you. Now you're going to bleed to death out of a million microscopic holes and who's going to give me cookies everyday? Oh, wait, yeah, I'm cute so everyone will, but you'll still be dead. Stupid human."

That's me.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dogs are Family, Too

Doggie Extraordinaire is the little brother we never had. He needs a blog to deal with what we do to him. Click the photo below to see what we've done to him now.

Poor thing.

He still loves us.

*No doggies were harmed in the making of this blog post. Perhaps humiliated, but not harmed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Consider Yourself Warned

Scary movies have never appealed to me. As a pre-teen I tried to prove my courage by watching horror films with my friends, but I hated the feeling of being afraid, and by the time I was a teenager, I’d built up enough courage to tell my friends I’d really rather play with bugs than watch a scary movie. And since then, I just don’t watch them.

Being afraid is not a feeling I covet. I don’t seek out adrenaline rushes, either. You won’t catch me willingly riding a roller coaster, skydiving, or doing any other risky activity associated with making your heart pound faster. I prefer cheap thrills and not risking my life. There is nothing appealing about doing anything that could easily cause me to scream, cry, or pee my pants. Why people seek this out and pay good money for it, I don’t know.

Recently I watched a program on television that frightened me beyond any kind of terror I felt watching The Exorcist as a child, or any paranormal story that I only half-believed, yet it scared the pants off me anyway. This show gave me nightmares the first time I watched it, and though I’ve tried to avoid it at all costs, occasionally I’m awake into the later hours of the day and I catch a glimpse of it as I’m flipping through the channels. No matter how strong I think I am or how much loving support I have with people around me, I cannot watch this show without having anxiety attacks. If you’ve watched this show, too, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

I would hereby like to declare that the TLC TV show “Jon and Kate Plus 8” is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.

One child gives me the willies. Two children make my skin crawl and I will run if they get worked up in any way, happy or upset. But eight? Eight kids, which include one set of twins and one set of sextuplets, could possibly be worse than anything I’ve ever seen before.

Boyfriend Extraordinaire is the oldest of nine kids, and though the concept of nine kids is petrifying as well, at least they weren’t all the same general age. He was already away at college when the youngest was born, so it isn’t like there were eight preschoolers in the house at one time.

Dear Flying Spaghetti Monster! EIGHT! PRESCHOOLERS! In the house! At one time!

I think I’m going to pass out.

They make so much noise! And they’re always talking, and someone’s always crying, and I don’t understand a word they say in their subhuman babytalk. It’s not just these particular kids. It’s kids in general. But there are so many of them! They’re everywhere! Two go to school and six are too young for school, but it’s the youngest ones who drive me the craziest. No matter how orderly their home might be, to me it’s complete chaos. Everyone wants attention, and the elaborate games they have to play to keep everyone entertained exhausts me just watching. I just…just can’t watch it. There are so many of them!

Kids are like spiders. One spider can be kinda cool for about five minutes, watching it crawl around, and talking to it, knowing it doesn’t understand you. Two spiders are a little creepier. I think they’re going to gang up on me, and they will if you let your guard down. But eight spiders?! Eight spiders mean that at any moment, you can become spider food. Kids and spiders are the same to me.

Jon and Kate are brave, but after about three minutes of watching the show, I start thinking they’re lunatics. I recognize that they didn’t intend to have eight kids in two pregnancies, but there should be some kind of trade-in system for when you have too many kids. We should be able to exchange them somewhere for other goods. In the warped world of my imagination, Jon and Kate should’ve been able to trade two of the sextuplets for a home addition, one for a new car, and another one for better appliances. There are a lot of people out there who want children, and I think if you have too many, you should be able to trade them. That would make me happy. Not that Jon and Kate would have done this, because they seem to actually enjoy the chaos, but maybe, if I ran the universe, people would have this option, so that TV networks wouldn’t see this family as being so special and inflict the horror that is this zoo of children upon those of us in society who have a child phobia.

I suppose the bottom line is that my morbid curiosity has forced me to watch this show twice, and each time I found myself more upset, more horrified than I thought possible, and it’s my fault for watching. I shouldn’t watch. My blood pressure shoots up, I cover my eyes, I mute the television, and sometimes I have to leave the room and then come back to watch the end. This is not the kind of stress that should be on a television show. This should have an X-rating. It shouldn’t just be on any time of day for channel flippers to innocently find. This show should be available only if you punch in a complex code and sign a waiver, it’s that scary.

So, if you haven’t seen the program, consider yourself warned. You can skip all the horror films they release from now on and watch this show to get that sense of terror and helplessness that so many people seem to crave. For me, I am done. No more. I’d much rather play with spiders.