Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Friend Of Mine

Some workplaces develop problems associated with building predicaments, such as HVAC problems, an infestation of bugs or rodents, water leaks, cracks in the foundation, plumbing issues, etc. When you deal with the public, you can add to the possibilities that there could be vandalism, broken furniture, doors and windows, or a myriad of other snags in the fabric that holds your workplace together.

It’s a very elite group of service employees who find themselves in a situation at work where they have to deal with the very special public building problem that we seem to have developed, which, truly, shouldn’t be surprising. It was just a matter of time, really.

Our building has a masturbator. He’s been there for quite some time, and like all other building issues, it feels as if he sprung up overnight, though the truth is he’s been festering here for a while. When you find out your building has a masturbator, like any other building crisis, you have to assess the threat and deal with as much of it on your own as you can before you take it to the necessary authorities. Our masturbator isn’t a severe case yet. He doesn’t expose himself, doesn’t reach into his pants, and he definitely doesn’t waltz in with a tube of lubricant in one hand and a box of tissues in the other. Like other maintenance issues, he’s subtle. It’s strictly over the clothes contact with himself while viewing porn. It could be contested that he was adjusting himself, had an itch, was rubbing his thigh, or other such excuse, but since no one on staff has caught him in the act, we can only imagine the reasons he might give. Regardless, it’s a problem, and enough patrons have said something about it to us that it has turned into a huge deal with procedures being drafted on the spot, and calls to the chief of police have been made. Our building doesn’t carry masturbator insurance, so we’re on our own with this mess.

Suffice it to say, we have all made our little puns, equally juvenile and embarrassing to have said them, but funny nonetheless.

However, there is one little area I’d like to address.

Now that it’s gone global and everyone in the building is aware that we have a masturbator, people from other departments are paying us visits, and they all say the same damn thing when they approach.

“So, is Your Friend here?”

He is not my friend, folks.

I have my standards. My friends don’t masturbate through their clothes. Let’s get this straight, okay, so I don’t have to keep going over this time and again. If these people didn’t even bother removing their clothing to seriously enjoy the orgasm they were about to receive, then they are no friends of mine. My friends know how to maximize their pleasure. None of this through-the-clothes crap. They get naked, they have props, they have toys, they have fantasies they live out, perhaps costumes they wear, maybe even a partner to enjoy it with, and I’ll bet many have needs so specific, you might call it a ceremony. They embrace the gift they give themselves. They pant, they sweat, and when it’s over, there is a mess and they are exhausted. AS IT SHOULD BE! No one I would associate with would be so lame as to go to a library and rub himself through his jeans as subtly as he could, depriving himself of moaning and quivering and biting his lip until it bleeds a little, gasping for air, muscles in his arm on fire from exhaustion which makes the desperation and fury all the more intense, and finally having that all-over orgasm that sends spasms throughout his body. WHO would not prefer to have it that way? Well, no one I call a friend, that’s who.

In sum, someone who masturbates in public through his/her clothes shant be called my friend.

A local police officer came into the library last night, looking all of 12 years old I should say, and while I know that the entire force has been informed of our masturbator problem, I did not expect every cop in town to stop by during his/her shift to check on us. Where were you when we had gang problems, fights and other acts of violence, when we were begging for a greater police presence??? Noooo, they don’t want to save the librarians from being knifed in a dark corner by the biographies. They want to catch a masturbator in the act. Fucking perverts.


Officer Doogie Howser sauntered (yes, he truly sauntered, because the idea of catching a non-violent local miscreant like a masturbator gives them an amused and cocky attitude that results in a saunter – it should be in the dictionary) over to my desk with a half-grin on his face, eagerly panning the crowd of patrons, obviously hopeful to find someone with a handful of his own pleasure. And not “hopeful” in a way that says he wants to join in, but in a way that says he’s going to take this masturbator down to the station and feel so superior, so self-righteous, and it will be this effortless bust that will make the world safer for children to touch the mice at the public computers of the library again. Blugh. He just had that look on his face that said he’d be mighty proud to catch the guy right-effing-now. Too bad our masturbator wasn’t around.

And then this officer crossed me, big time.

He said, “So, has Your Friend been in today?”

Oh no you di’n’t!

Not that I don’t want the police around – I do! – and not that I want to thwart a spontaneous arrest of someone committing a lewd act in my library, but calling the masturbator My Friend just ticks me off. I don’t have anything against masturbators. I don’t have anything against masturbating in public. I don’t have anything against masturbating at the library. But THROUGH his clothes?! Clearly, the guy is just stupid. I mean, what is the point?

I think I’d have more respect for him if he yanked it out and whacked off in plain sight. It would be better if he had some kind of fantasy about masturbating with a horrified audience looking on. (Which is why I always say to laugh if you can possibly remember to do so in your state of shock.) If his thrill is to appall folks, that’s how you do it. If your willy likes the fresh air, whip it out. Be prepared to pay the price, but by all means, go down in a blaze of glory. Because this public masturbation thing has to have huge ties to the danger of getting caught, I say just do it! But, for fuck’s sake, don’t cower under a desk and give yourself a squeeze through all those clothes. If you’re going to get caught and arrested, do it with panache! Do it with your wiener shooting out wild and free. Do it and be proud. This half-assed bullshit is lame. Why don’t you just go in the washroom like the rest of the dorks who surf porn all day? Lame-o. You’re not impressive. You’re not even interesting. And, as I said before, you’re not my friend.

Leave it to my library to get a case of a masturbator who is a harmless, middle-aged, mentally retarded man (yes, he is very obviously retarded, literally) who is too scared to commit to his obscenities. He probably doesn’t even know how offensive he is or how many people have spotted him. It’s the perfect scandal, too. Aside from some folks being disgusted, it’s pretty much a victimless crime. I’ve heard so many stories from other librarians who have caught people having sex, streakers, flashers, and full-on sessions of masturbation with exposure and all, and I have to admit, I’m a little jealous. All we get are the ones who could do us bodily harm. It’s not fair! We never get a good act of lewdness. And now that we have one, it’s this nice retarded man who touches himself through his jeans. It’s so disappointing.

Now that I’m in that elite group of library folk who have had a masturbator in the building, I feel let down. And I haven’t even seen him in action. I’d probably be even more let down then.

“That’s it?! That’s all you’ve got? It’s over? Pssssh, and you call yourself a masturbator? You’re a disgrace to the vocation. Don’t quit your day job!”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Change Is Good

For nearly a year, I've had half a head of blue hair, and while I have loved it, there have been many times when I wish I didn't have such a high maintenance hairdo. This was particularly intense after re-dying my hair and noting how very deep blue the caulk around the base of my tub and the grout in the tiles in the shower have become, and no amount of scrubbing will change that.

Someone helped me to make a big hair decision.

Leelu's mother knits. She knits soft, fuzzy, gorgeous scarves, and this year she had an extra, which Leelu sent to me as a gift. I love my scarf a lot, but it clashed with my hair, so clearly something had to be done about the hair.

I now have purple hair.

A purple scarf and purple hair.

And a purple blog.

Everything is aligned again and the chaos and nightmares that have plagued my life lately will now go away. Purple will cure all.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Have a Dream, Too

Last Monday was Martin Luther King Day and my library was open, unlike many libraries in the area and the country.

Boyfriend Extraordinaire marvels at this every year, though I’m not sure why, and when he saw me on Yahoo at work on Monday, he felt the need to rub it in.

B.E.: Why are you at work???

Me: Um, because it’s my job.

B.E.: It’s a holiday!

Me: Oh, yeah, well, we’re only allowed to celebrate the major holidays.

B.E.: No holidays with minorities, huh?

Oooooooooooooooh, snap! Go ahead and use it if you think it will help you get MLK Day off. Let me know how that goes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Great Flood of '09

I arrived home from work yesterday just before 9 PM, threw my walleye fillets (bluck – fish – hate it!) in the oven, boiled some corn on the cob, and immediately put on my pajamas. When the food was done, I called my brother to get his share and I settled myself in front of the television with the dog, my dinner, and a throbbing headache.

While I ate, I thought I heard the water from the corn still boiling, though I swore I turned it off. When I finished eating, I checked the stove and indeed, I had turned the burner off. Figuring it must have been something unimportant, I returned to the couch to finish the episode of CSI, and I continued hearing what I thought was boiling water. Irritated, I returned to the kitchen to find the source of the sound.

It was coming from the heating duct.

My first reaction was, how the hell did that much water get in there and what does this mean?

My brother, who’s worked in the construction industry for many years, installing flooring, rehabbing houses, etc., was my go-to guy. He pulled the vent off and we found ourselves staring at muddy debris floating atop a pool of water about six inches from overflowing onto the kitchen floor, and with the air being forced from the furnace through the water, it was gurgling and belching up air bubbles that were echoing in the metallic ducts. It was starting to sound like African drums.

We immediately turned off the heat. I suggested we mark the water level somehow in the duct to see if it was going up or down, so he did that, and then we set about trying to find a leak that could be draining into the ducts. Thirty minutes later, we returned to the duct to check the progress and the water had risen about ¾ of an inch. Also, we were no closer to finding the source, as everything else in the house was bone dry and functioning normally. We marked the new level and started to Google.

Perhaps the only thing scarier than Googling a home crisis is Googling a health crisis, and health doesn’t beat home by much. The doomsday information started a panic inside me that immediately made my heart race and my breathing quicken. If we didn’t find the source of the water soon, we were going to have to Google a health crisis as well.

We can thank Doggie Extraordinaire for what follows.

With my brother and me running around the house in a heightened state of anxiety, eyes wide, talking in semi-flustered voices, Doggie E. followed, equally if not more anxious than us, and no more or less knowledgeable about what was going on. The activity made him have to pee so I leashed him up and took him out in front. This was where I noticed that there was a large puddle of water, not ice, in the street in front of my house. Strange. A shallow puddle of water in 15º weather should not be water still. This was fresh. There had to be a connection.

Once inside, my brother and I started turning off all the noisemakers in the house, like televisions, fans, etc., and we listened. We noticed a sound, almost like a motor but not quite as stable and regular.

He said, “That’s running water. It’s coming from next door!”

Next door is a house where the crackhead used to live, but it’s been empty since early summer. Suddenly it all made sense. Empty house, no heat, no water running through the pipes, sub-zero temperatures, and the first day the temperature made it to the upper 20s results in flooded ducts in my house and the sound of gushing water, audible through two sets of walls, which said to me one thing: frozen pipes burst.

This is where things got fun. Yeah, fun.

With my Maglite in hand, my brother stomped through a foot of virgin snow on the driveway of the house next door to try to see if there was water coming out anywhere. He didn’t even get to the front door and found himself standing in a pool of water streaming from under the garage door.

I felt like celebrating. My house was in danger, my heat off, my ducts flooded, but I was happy because all I could think of was that someone else was going to have to pay for it and not me. The water was coming from next door!

We called the police and my brother helped the officer break into the garage. Thankfully, no questions were asked about how he knew how to break into the garage, though my brother was quick to offer up that he’d locked himself out so many times, he became adept at getting in our house in a variety of ways, which was all true, but it’s still nerve wracking to advise a cop on how to properly break into someone’s garage without harming the property.

Once the garage door was thrown open, we could all see the torrent of water coming from the rear of the garage, seeping through the area where the drywall meets the foundation. The water made its way under the garage door, which had about 6-inches of warped wood at the bottom now, and it snaked its way under the foot of snow on the driveway, where it was draining into the street where my cold toes met it.

The entire time I was patting myself on the back, thinking that we solved this problem before it was truly devastating and all my neighbors should be thanking us. I felt like a superstar in my own head, which doesn’t happen often.

The officer then tried to get into the house through the door leading to the garage, and when that proved to be locked, he searched the garage for a key, not to be found. Next line of offense: fire department.

The officer said, “If we’ve gotta break the door down, I’ll let the fire department do it. People seem to like them more, though I don’t know why.”

I chuckled half-heartedly, carrying with me that innate nervousness people feel around cops and not knowing why he couldn’t understand it.

My brother said, “Ah, it must be the handcuffs.”

DUDE, that was funny! But the officer didn’t laugh. Which is precisely why the joke was a joke to begin with.

Then things got really exciting! A door was going to be broken down! We were thrilled at the idea of big firemen with Paul-Bunyan-sized axes hacking violently away at the door, carnage, splintered wood, and hinges flying wildly. We were beside ourselves with anticipation! HURRY, firemen!

The fire truck pulled up, rumbling the whole block, which caused one of our neighbors to join us in the cold, wet street, standing around like useless spectators. The truck was equipped with a gigantic panel of lights, operated by remote control, which impressed the hell out of my brother as he watched the arms moving on their own, positioning the panel in the direction of the firemen.

I said, “Just wait. You haven’t seen how bright the lights are. You’re not going to believe this.”

As if on my cue, the sun came back out. Oh, wait, no, that was the lights on the fire truck. This panel was powerful enough to light up the entire street and make the neighborhood appear to have been rocketed forward or backward in time to about 2 PM on a summer day. There were some oohs and ahhs to be sure.

That would be the end of our awe. Two enormous firemen (or do they only look that much larger than life?) set about breaking into the house, and the first thing we noticed was the lack of Paul-Bunyan axes. Sad. Instead, one of the guys carried a tool that looked like a tiny hoe with yellow, plastic coating. Not impressive! Then we noticed the firemen were donning the classic fireman walrus mustaches and we surmised that they were surely the real deal, despite the lack of humbling weaponry to behold. We had only their furry upper lips to gawk at. (Sigh.)

Indeed there were frozen pipes, and indeed the house was flooded. Our uniformed rescuers shut off the water to the house and stopped the endless flow of water. One of the enormous firemen asked to see the water in our ducts, so we guided him into the house.

He was huge. Maybe 12 feet tall, give or take a foot. I swear, it’s true.

His boots were soaked and though we warned him to be very careful walking on the laminate in our front room, as I followed behind him, I saw his feet slip a few times.

Did you ever notice that instincts sometimes make no sense? Because there I was, walking behind this mammoth of a walrus-man who slipped slightly on my killer flooring, and I instinctively reached out with my hands to catch him if he was to fall. Uh, yeah, right.

As impressed as we were with the firemen and their light show, this fireman was impressed with our flooded ducts, which we thought were pretty lame at that point. However, this was when we noticed how much the water had risen in a very short period of time. Also, this was when I came to the conclusion that the house was starting to smell like camping. You know the smell -- wet, outdoorsy, moldy, musty, muddy, and a slight hint of decaying matter. All we needed was a canvas tent and a plague of bugs and the camping atmosphere would be complete.

The fireman told us to call our home owners association management company immediately to report the ruptured pipes because with the water still rising and the threat of mold in our ducts (which made him cringe), it needed to be pumped out and taken care of tonight. Yessir, we agreed.

I called the HOA managers and spoke with someone at an answering service who clearly was there to triage the calls before paging someone important. She asked what was going on, and by the time I got to the part about my ducts being flooded, I realized that the word ducts, when not properly enunciated, sounds much like ducks, but I’d already announced that my ducts were flooded.

She responded with an incredulous, “What?!! Your what? They’re what?”

Through laughter I reiterated, “My duck-ttttt-s are flooded. Not my ducks. I have no ducks. They are not flooded. But my DUC-KUH-TUHS are.” Who knew ducts had three syllables?

She paged someone at the company, who called me back around midnight.

This was when the fun ended.

I explained that we found our heating ducts in the floor of our lower level to be flooded with water and traced the source to the vacant house next door, which the police and fire department were able to get into and shut off the water supply to the house to stave off the flow.

She snottily said, “Okay, I’m not sure what you want me to do about this. It’s not really our responsibility.”

Me: Well, I was told to call you right away to report it.

Her: But how does anyone know where the water came from? I don’t really know what you expect me to do about this.

Me: Well, maybe you should call the police department or the fire department, who were the ones to break into the house and turn the water off. The fireman said to call you about the frozen pipes. Maybe you could clear this up with them.

Her: Oh, THE FIREMAN said frozen pipes? Well, why didn’t you say that? That’s what I was trying to find out from you! I needed to know where you got the idea that the problem wasn’t coming from your own house and who determined it to be a water pipe problem. I can’t just do things because you say so.

Me: *Sigh* SOOOOO, now what?

Her: I’ll have to get someone out there to see what’s going on tomorrow.

Me: Tomorrow?! I have no heat. The water in our ducts is three inches shy of flooding the lower level of the house and it’s rising about an inch an hour still, even with the water shut off. What would you recommend I do tonight? Should I go to K-Mart and buy a wet/dry vac and start drawing some of the water out myself? While I wait until you send someone out tomorrow?

Her: Oh. It’s still rising?

Me: Yes. And it’s about 55º in my house without any heat, and dropping.

Her: FINE! I’ll send out a contractor!

Me: Tonight? Is someone coming right away?

Her: Yes! I’ll call him now.

Me: Thank you.


The contractor showed up a while later with an 18-gallon shop-vac. That thing looked like magic to us. I had shop-vac envy.

At around 3:30 AM, he had sucked over 350 gallons of water out and we could still see the water level lapping gently against the riser in the duct. We were exhausted, we were freezing, and we all just wanted to get some sleep. The contractor left after making sure our heat worked and there was no gurgling and burping of furnace air struggling to get through water, and indeed the heat was working just fine. He advised we keep an eye on the water level and call back if it was getting bad again, but that the heat might help to evaporate some of the water. We thanked him and surprisingly he started trying to clean our floors for us.

Me: Whoa! No, no, no. You don’t have to clean the floors. We’ll do that!

Him: Nope, sorry, I feel I have to do this. I’m going to leave this house exactly as I found it!

Me: NOOOOO, do you have any idea how hard it will be to put all the dirt back on the floor and refill the ducts with water?!?

We laughed, but he finally stopped trying to mop my floors.

My brother and I agreed that he’d stay up late to monitor the water level while I got a couple hours of sleep, and then I’d get up and help my mom sort through the task of trying to get the problem taken care of in the morning. You really can’t leave something this huge in the hands of a woman on three anti-depressants, some narcotic pain relievers, and two muscle relaxers. She’s liable to forget what she’s saying mid-sentence, fall asleep, and wake up without remembering who she is. Because she was there while all this was going on, sound asleep, completely oblivious to the ruckus we made running around, yelling to one another from upstairs and downstairs about this or that, the lack of heat, the fire truck, the fireman stomping through the house, the dog barking like a maniac in my brother’s room, the contractor running the shop-vac for hours, slamming doors as he went in and out dumping water, furniture moving, and clean-up. She slept through it all. Drugs are nice that way. She wouldn’t have been able to handle it anyway. It was smooth as silk with her unconscious and not doing ridiculous things or trying to blame me for using tampons, which she claims is to blame for every water and plumbing problem our house has ever had. That’s how she works, and it doesn’t work well.

I finally got to sleep around 5:00 AM and as back up around 8:00. The water had receded some, but the house still smells like camping.

I’ve spent the entire day trying not to wring my mom’s neck because she cannot use her head and answer simple questions with simple answers. I think my brother got the better deal, staying up late, avoiding working with Mom on this stuff.

After some digging, I learned that the owner of the house next door is not a person, but a huge title company in the Chicago area, and the person who has played the role of “owner” is actually an attorney for the title company, and he has lied outright to us, our HOA management company, and is actually breaking building codes as I type this by sending a contractor out to vacuum the water out without replacing anything, and putting it back into the pool of rentals available. They are also not going through their own insurance company, and doing this all without any kind of regulation, out of pocket only. AND they’re denying that their multiple frozen pipes caused our flooding. Of course, the attorney had a contractor in the house at the break of dawn today, covering the damage so he can deny responsibility and claim that there was only a small flood that didn’t cause any damage to anyone else’s property.

And the fight begins.

Remind me to put attorneys and title companies at the top of my shit list.

The irony here is that I’m the one who saved that house. And they won’t pay the few hundred or one thousand dollars to have my ducts fixed because they were too cheap to keep the heat on during a record-breaking cold spell.

Wish me luck. Or send me an attorney.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's Never Long Enough

We could have had Cloudy for 50 years and it wouldn't have been long enough. But that doesn't bring us any comfort when we only had her for a month and we suddenly lost her.

Cloudy was euthanized tonight. She had immune mediated hemolytic anemia, and she was almost gone by the time the diagnosis came back. Spending thousands of dollars on transfusions and anti-rejection meds, as well as rehydrating and giving her antibiotics prophylactically, with days to be spent in the hospital, hoping that we could somehow restore her blood and stop the immune cells from attacking the new blood all at once before she died from the effects, well, it didn't seem like it was in her best interest. Nor could I afford it.

We found out a few things about her. She was between 3 and 5 years old and likely had this disease for a long time before it started to really effect her, and since we only had her for 4 weeks, all the things that we thought were a part of her personality could have been symptoms. She had an enormous mass in her belly that was only palpable tonight because she'd lost so much weight. The mass was likely her spleen grossly enlarged or a tumor that could have caused the IMHA. Her prognosis was bad even if we had $10K to throw at making her better. And if we'd left her outside, she probably wouldn't have lived more than a few days from when we found her in December.

When the doctor administered the shot, she went limp within the first cc of the injection, and he commented afterward that he'd never seen a cat go that quickly, which was due to her being so close to dying already. He assured us that we did he right thing, but I'm sure they're trained to tell survivors that no matter what. It doesn't change the guilt of knowing that if I had $2,500 tonight, they would have tried to transfuse her right then. And if I had many more thousands of dollars, I might have been able to afford the next week of treatment, and then there would be the lifetime of tranfusions and constant monitoring and medication. If I had money, should I have tried? Not a question I want an answer to, so don't bother telling me.

So, my brother and I said our goodbyes, which never includes that word, strangely. We had her only one month, but will remember her for a lifetime. She touched us deeply, she brought us joy, and maybe, just maybe, we hope we gave her some too.

We love you, Cloudy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Plus Or Minus

I've discovered a few things, thanks to the recent cold spell. They are as follows:

I have a new pet peeve. People who say the temperature is -20º below. If the temperature is given in a negative number, and someone redundates (welcome to my new verb) that it's below zero, do the two negatives make a positive? We wish the temperature was actually 20º above! This is, perhaps, worse than when people discuss the temperature and include the "windshield" factor. Now, I said that as a child, but I learned that it's "wind chill" factor before I was too old to get away with using that. However, saying "minus twenty degrees below" will make me hit you. Hard. Possibly with a weapon. Cut. It. Out.

Speaking of misuse of the negative... has redefined the negative. My algebra teachers would kick their collective asses if they saw this.
Minus 0º? What the hell is negative zero? Perhaps this is one of those overly complicated numbers that only a handful of nerds on earth can comprehend, and you don't really want to ask what it is because they'll tell you, and you don't want that. In the meantime, I'm just going to be irritated with that.

Bitter fucking cold will not close my workplace. -30º with the wind makes my car go into hibernation, so I can only imagine what American cars were doing yesterday and today. Most local schools (except our school district) and many public entities (including other public libraries) were closed, but not my library. It took two tries to start my car Thursday morning, three tries when I left work on Thursday night, and this morning it took two more tries. When I say "tries", I mean cranking the ignition, getting nothing, pumping the gas a little, getting nothing, starting to panic, easing off, and wondering how long it will take to develop frostbite in my own car while trying to start it. That's one try. Then I wait about 30 seconds and try again. Thankfully, I didn't die in between. 20 minutes of heating it up and the engine was still so cold, no warm air came out of the heat vents. 20 minutes and the layer of ice encasing my car would not melt. 20 minutes and the windows wouldn't even think of opening, not that I wanted them to open. After about an hour in the car, it finally warmed up to where I could take off my gloves and coat, but my toes were still frozen. I saw people walking to the library. Stupid people. I considered running them over and doing them a favor, but then I realized they didn't deserve it. Today I saw a teenage girl walking on the street in jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie on top. She looked cold. I bet her school was closed and she was trying to find something to do, because that's what stupid teenagers do. If the library had closed due to weather, I guarantee that even our stupidest employees would not have been walking around town. We would've stayed inside, allowed our cars their hibernation, sipped hot chocolate, cuddled with our pets, and maybe did some laundry. You know how nice it is to wrap yourself in a warm blanket fresh out of the dryer, dog at your feet, nibbling on popcorn while watching reruns of Law & Order. We would not be walking to the library or the store, or anywhere else for that matter.

Deicer can freeze. The panic that ensues when the deicer has frozen and you can't get into your car is not pretty. It's really hard to throw a tantrum on a frozen, icy driveway buried under four inches of frozen snow, when you're bundled in triple or quadruple layers, limbs that barely bend, with only one eyeball exposed. Don't, out of anger, kick the frozen shit that has built up in the wheel wells. It won't budge in this weather. It might as well be solid steel. And you can feel pain despite the cold. The good news is you cannot hear your neighbors laughing at you when they're inside their hermetically sealed homes, enjoying a day off due to weather. (Fuckers.)

Dogs seem to have to pee more often when it's cold enough outside to kill .

The acts of quickly opening the front door to take the dog out, closing it behind me, then opening it again to come in, and quickly closing it behind me again, can cause the temperature in my entire downstairs to drop 3 full degrees. And it's set at 66º because we're broke. It then takes my furnace a half-hour to warm it back up to 66 again. Which is just in time for the dog's bladder to fill again.

I no longer want to move north.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Care, But Not That Much

I was watching TV while eating dinner tonight and a commercial for a cell phone company came on. You probably know the commercial. It begins with a series of average people asking curious questions, and then the advertisement for the Internet searching capacity of Name Brand cell company becomes apparent. One of the curious questions asked was by a pair of twins wanting to know if they had the same fingerprints.

Bro: I want to know that, too.

Me: Yeah, me too! I keep forgetting to look it up.

Bro: So do I!

Me: NOOOOO, I spend my days looking up stupid things I don’t care about. Like today, a guy asked me when the first performance of the Chicago Symphony took place at Ravinia. Pshaw! I don’t care about that shit. But I still had to look it up. Why don’t people ask me questions I care about?

Bro: Yeah, quit making it all about you!

Me: That’s right! Don’t ask me stuff that you care about. It’s all about me here. From now on I have to care in order to look stuff up for people.

Can you imagine? All I’d ever agree to research is animal stuff.

You need to know how to choose the right wine with your meal? Pffft, I soooo don’t care about that. Ask another librarian.

You want to print directions to you doctor’s office? Nah, not interesting. You’re on your own, bub.

You want to see that video of the otters holding hands? OHMYGOD, don’t you love that video?! I have it bookmarked! Here, come sit on my lap and we’ll watch together!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Drift Away

When I say that the area got 6-8 inches of snow but I got 12-14 because of the drifts, you really don't understand that it means my driveway had 14 inches of snow on one side and about 6 on the other. Nor do you immediately comprehend that 14-inch drifts in the driveway means 3-foot drifts up against my front storm door and my garage doors. Many times after a snow storm I cannot get out of the front of my house, but instead have to kick my way through the snow on the patio out the back door, stomp through the entire back yard and make my way around the front of the house, carrying the shovel so that I can dig my way to one of the doors to get myself back in the front of my house.

This was not mentioned when the house was bought. Facing west has many downfalls, most of which involve sweltering heat in the summer months. However, during the winter when almost every storm comes from the west, the front and side of my house are exposed to a large, open field, which, with the slightest wind, pushes all the new snow up to the first object it encounters: my house. It used to be that if you parked two cars on the driveway, one would inevitably be buried to the hood in snow, while the other would have barely a dusting.

Don't believe me?

Late last night and early this morning, my driveway was shoveled three times, the last time being by my crazy neighbor who used his snowblower again. Between when he cleared my driveway at 9:30 am, and when I left for work at 11:15 am, this happened to my car.

Look at that creative sculpture only nature could create.

Note the driveway across the street, which was cleared at the same time mine was. Its blacktop is exposed. I cannot see black on my driveway at all, and there are another few inches of snow on the passenger side of my car, below the drift.

Winter sucks at my house, if you catch my drift.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mostly Cloudy

So I don't keep cluttering up this nice, clean, pussy-free blog, Cloudy's addition to our lives has been documented at Doggie Extraordinaire's blog if you're interested.

And to Marina, Christi, Mario, and all the other folks who were trying so hard to help me find a home for her, only for my brother to say he can't let her go now, I thank you and apologize, but assure you that no one on earth could possibly love her more. My brother is head over heels in love, and he follows her around the house giggling at every little thing she does. It's beyond worship. It's getting scary.

Doggie Extraordinaire, on the other hand, is trying so hard to pretend like she doesn't exist, and that has to be driving him nuts. He will turn his back on Cloudy and refuse to look at her, as if he's thinking that if he can't see her, she can't possibly exist. They can't be left alone, and someone always has to be poised to tackle him if she's in the same room, but we're working on it and making progress. It is turning him into a very needy dog, though. He doesn't just want to sit on my lap all the time; he wants to burrow into me. This explains many of the bruises all over my body. Poor guy is so insecure.

Cloudy says thanks for all the comments of support and compliments on her cuteness.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Animal Attacks!

For the past two weeks, I've been on a mostly-vacation. A mostly-vacation means I managed to get six out of seven days off each week and only work Tuesdays. It was grand.

What I would like to share with you is the terrifying experiences we had last week at the Racine Zoo on New Year's Day.

Let me start by saying that the Racine Zoo has long been one of my favorite zoos because I don't often have the time, small fortune and energy to do Brookfield, or the patience to deal with the traffic and parking surrounding Lincoln Park. Milwaukee is nice, but it feels too old school to me. Racine is the underdog of local zoos. Costing only $4 to get in and offering free parking, it's economical. While you can get through the whole zoo in an hour or two, you have the benefit of many more up close and personal experiences with some surprisingly exotic creatures. It's always a thrill.

With half the animals off exhibit due to the extreme cold, we expected a half-empty zoo. What we didn't expect was for the animals on exhibit to be so bloody bold.

The fennec foxes were sleepy, but adorable.

The turs were outside, but only three, and they were eating and paying little attention to anyone save for an occasional glance with a mouth full of food.

The penguins, though perfectly suited for the cold, were in a glass enclosure and squawked at us, but we could not hear them or get any pictures.

Then we visited the tiger. The Amur tiger is always a highlight, but today he was particularly active, pacing and growling, acknowledging the few people who passed his enclosure, or just sitting in the snow looking tough.

I strolled on to check out the very playful lynx next door to the tiger. Gorgeous girl, she is.

After a few minutes, I noticed that Boyfriend Extraordinaire lagged behind, watching the tiger through the window. Then I heard the tiger growl and my Schwee yelped. When I turned to look, I didn't even have the wherewithal to lift the camera and shoot.

There stood B.E. at the window and the tiger was inches away, on his hind legs, swiping repeatedly with alternating paws at the window, as if trying to knock B.E.'s head off.

I repeated "Holy crap!" about four times before I remembered to take a picture. By the time I did, the tiger decided he'd had enough and wandered off.

B.E., on the other hand, managed only to snap three shots: a blurry tiger forehead, the sky, and the ground. He knew there was a barrier between them, but for a few moments his senses were fooled into believing he was going to be eaten by a tiger. I'm sure it didn't help that the night before we'd been up late watching a program on Animal Planet about man-eating tigers of the Sundarbans.

The interesting thing was a few minutes later, the tiger did it again, and this time I was ready.

However, the tiger's attitude softened a little and then he wanted some neck rubs.

Once the tiger quit attacking and then rubbing on B.E., we made our way through the rest of the zoo, and on our way out, we noticed that there were kangaroos and wallaroos hopping around the Walkabout Creek exhibit, which had been empty when we visited earlier. Without a clear knowledge of the difference between the kangas and wallas, we just called them all 'roos, which might have been a precursor to our second animal attack at the Racine Zoo that day.

The cool thing about Walkabout Creek is that you're walking on a paved path with little more than dangling ropes to keep you on your path, and the 'roos pretty much have the run of the place.

Okay, let me point out the difference between the wallaroos and kangaroos, because this is going to be key.

Wallaroos are f'ing adorable!

They have faces like bunnies, tiny little T-rex hands, and bounce around on big thighs and feet, with a thick, furry tail for balance.

And they have big dark eyes, so dreamy, and long whiskers that jut out of their eyebrows, mustaches and beards.

Very snuggly! I want one! Or three.

Kangaroos, on the other hand, look a little less snuggly. In fact, they look more like they want to beat the living crap out of you for calling them a 'roo, and then piss on your remains, all with a quaint Aussie accent.

That look totally changed my view of kangaroos being the deer of Australia. Deer don't look at me like that.

So, anyway, we walked all the way around Walkabout Creek with 'roos scattering whenever we got within 10 feet of them, which was okay because it's fun to watch them hopping around. We got all the way back to the swinging doors out of the enclosure and turned to take one last look at the 'roos bouncing about, when a kangaroo decided to give us a send-off.

From all the way at the other end of the exhibit, this 'roo got it in his head to come after us.
Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire.

In the blink of an eye, he'd cut the distance between us in half, and he was still coming fast.
Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire.

Now, 'roos seem like peaceful creatures and they don't have massive fangs or weigh 800 pounds, yet, the menacing way they look at you makes you think they could mess you up before you even got your head wrapped around the fact that a marsupial half your size was kicking your ass.

This one was coming fast, and he didn't look like he wanted to cuddle.

I said, "OHMYGOD, Schwee, he's coming for us! He's going to get us! Schweee!"

And, me being me, I squealed in terror and instinctively scurried over to B.E. for 'roo defense.

When I moved, the 'roo froze. It was like he expected us to be frozen in shock over the concept of being attacked by a 'roo, which is a huge upper hand when you're about to kick the ass of something much larger than yourself. The element of surprise always helps. I do believe that me moving over reminded the 'roo just how small he was, and that if the two humans defended themselves, he could stub a toe or something equally irritating. So, he sat about 6 feet from us, right where he stopped, and tried to look nonchalant.

B.E. tried to assure me that he meant no harm and wanted just to shake my hand. Uh-huh. And I bet that tiger just wanted to give him a hug, too.

Suddenly, the 'roo turned and hopped off. But I took one last shot of him standing at the other end of the enclosure, eying us threateningly, and then I promptly left that exhibit.

You see that look? Shake-my-hand, my ass! He was going to mess me up!

Consider yourself warned. If you see tracks like this in the snow, watch out!

And that was the best $4 trip to the zoo ever!