invisionary: "Now the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket!" with picture of demon in a business suit. (Hell in a Handbasket)
I was hoping to not have to make a post like this anytime soon, but I suppose I must, if I value my LJ Idol rear. I'm hurtin' pretty bad in the poll and have a good chance of getting voted off without a little more love.

So I ask you if you like to read my entry for the week, it's a rewrite of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, which if you haven't read the original, you should :).

If you like it (and I hope you do! I enjoyed writing it!), head over to the poll for the week, click that little check box by my name, and hit the submit button. Voting for me encourages me to write more, which may or may not be motivation for you to help out.

DW users, you can vote too even if you don't have a LJ account - use your OpenID to sign in over there and it works just fine too.

(I was hoping I could go longer without making such a request of my friends here... but this was inevitable.)

Music choice here is regretfully honest. Faily as it is, I have this eye of glamour to it all and choose to delude myself into thinking that such descriptions are a fictionalized archetype, with full consent and lots of glamour for everyone involved. Sadly the world doesn't work like this, but I like my fantasy.

Now, off to get some stuff around in hopes of getting passport applications submitted today.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
With apologies to Dr. Seuss, for I am not a tenth of the poet he is.

"The Lorax Comes Back"

I could only look down
At the seed I had found
Wondering just what it was I had heard
I stood there and pondered every last word
On the Street of the Lifted Lorax.

Cut for considerable length. )
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
Banner with story title and picture of a bloke holding a pint.

If You Give a Bloke a Beer...

He'll ask for another. And another, and another, and another.

Once he's downed the beer, he'll let out a huge belch!

Then he'll ask you where the loo is. He'll go in the wrong one and get slapped in the face. He'll miss the urinal just like the other blokes.

He'll want to play darts. Another bloke will bet him fifty quid he can't hit the board three times in a row. Your bloke won't win the bet.

Then he'll want to watch some footy. He'll make a real Arsenal of himself. A Chelsea hooligan will spill beer on him and he won't even notice.

Then he'll want to go see a match in person. You'll have to drive him there and pay for his ticket since he blew all his money on ale. Once he's in the gate he'll realize you took him to a cricket pitch.

He'll then want to go STREAKING. He'll run through the crease and get smacked on the backside by the batsman. You'll have to bail him out of jail.

On the way home he'll see a cat. This will remind him to cat-call at the ladies on the other side of the street. He'll then trip over the cracks in the footpath. He'll bruise his head but later tell the other blokes he was in a sweet barfight.

He'll forget to ask you where the loo is and use the gutter instead. A bobby will catch him and throw him back in jail for the night. You'll have to call his girlfriend and tell her where he is and why you're not there with him.

In the morning, before he gets home he'll see another pub, and he'll want a beer.

This piece of crackfic is done in the style of Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series of children's books. I doubt she had this in mind. :)
invisionary: "Now the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket!" with picture of demon in a business suit. (Hell in a Handbasket)
"Inside Baseball". For those who aren't familiar, the term refers to insider knowledge that only a person who works in a given field or an enthusiast of would know, let alone use. I'm a baseball fan, but nowhere near as much as I am an ice hockey fan, so I can explain its parallels better. For instance, common goaltending statistics include save percentage and goals against average. The first is a simple percentage of saves made versus total shots against. The latter refers to how many goals go in while he's in net. Believe it or not, that's simple shop talk.

Inside Hockey has a complex set of rules known as The Code. They aren't in any rulebook, although an excellent book on the subject was written a few years ago by Ross Bernstein. If you watch a lot of hockey you'll occasionally see an interview with a player where he will talk about something someone else did and he'll say that wasn't Code or he broke the Code. Those aren't light words. When someone says that they really mean that guy really fucked up out there and is going to have to pay the Price. It's how a crazy game maintains any semblance of order and you'd never know it at work unless you were familiar with these rules. When you are you'll never see the game the same way again.

Some of my readers may disagree with me, but I think hockey is one of the toughest sports to play in the world. People are moving at over 50 km/h with razor blades on their feet, managing a small rubber disc with sticks to shoot into a net past a guy with huge padding (and doesn't mind people whipping shots at over 150 km/h at him!). The pace is frantic and in a few seconds a play can dramatically change if you don't keep your head up. That's not including the hitting! Violent collisions are the rule, not the exception, as Bernstein said. With that much adrenaline and power focused in a rink with glass walls and very hard ice underneath tempers are going to flare.

Referees are not going to see everything that goes on with or behind the play. There's just too much and it moves too fast. The officials are there to regulate how the play goes and may choose to strictly enforce rules or "let the players play". Sure they will send guys to the sin bin for breaking the written rules, but there's no rule about just how hard you can hit a guy in a given situation, or how long he has to see you before you can toss his salad. Cheap shots happen.

Ultimately it will come to a head and there will be a scrap. Fans love fighting; in fact many wouldn't show up to games if fighting were banned. It's however not fake entertainment - those punches are real, blood goes flying, and bones get broken. But despite that there's a familiar air of respect among the pugilists and that's part of the Code too. You don't see obscene hand gestures among them. They will usually talk it over a bit before they throw down (although this is partially due to the official rules about instigating fights).

Once they're done it's not unheard of for players on opposing teams, especially enforcers, to go out with the guys they just beat up for drinks. It's a fraternity within a fraternity. You might not know it to see it on TV or at a game, but these big guys have some of the biggest hearts of all hockey players. Many are well-known in their communities for their charitable and humanitarian contributions and it shows.

Having said all of that might give the Code a bit of a biased view. It's not just a guide of when and how to drop the gloves. It's not beaten into every teenage hockey player from their first adventure away from home into Junior, although that is where most players first learn it if they came up in the Canadian system. It's a primer into what earns respect in an unforgiving place where the sport is rough, coaches are demanding, and players change teams sometimes more frequently than their equipment (and if you've ever smelled hockey pads, you get why this is important).

For example, here's a few cardinal sins and expectations that aren't in the rulebook.

Don't shoot the puck after the whistle blows.
Spraying someone with snow is fighting words.
Let a guy rest after a hard shift - don't go after him when he's tired.
You stand up for your teammates no matter what, and if that means fighting, you do it.
Call out your teammates in the locker room, not in the newsroom.
The microphones won't catch what you say on the ice (usually), but the camera will catch gestures.
When guys fight cheer them on. They both won for showing up because the Code was honored.
Disrespecting a ref is worse than disrespecting an opponent. That earns the disdain of everyone.
Never let an insult to your goalie go unanswered. Fighting is never his job. Yell at him if he does.
Throwing equipment is a cheap pond hockey trick, not something you ever do in a real game.

Worthy of special mention is the degree to which players are expected by the Code to show up and play. Injuries are something you play through if at all possible. It's not unheard of for players to get hurt in ways that would have them out of several games in other sports to get stitched up with (maybe) a little Novocaine and go back out there to start the next period. Hockey lore tells of players scoring Stanley Cup winning goals with broken limbs. Most importantly you NEVER whine or complain about the pain - that is mortal sin by the Code. Everyone hurts and you cope with it. The docs give you the good drugs for a reason.

I said that this isn't about dropping the gloves, but that is inevitably where it ends if someone breaks the rules - or worse. Failure to live by these expectations means someone's going to have to make up for your lack of honor - either you will or someone else will have to. This probably means an old-fashioned ass-beating. The official rules will not force you to fight and will defend your choice not to. That means one of two things is going to happen - either someone else will have to fight on your behalf, or someone's gonna get hurt. The Price is a straight-up toe-to-toe or it's a vicious body or stick check that could leave you out of the game for weeks. It's your choice, but there will be justice in the hockey world. It might not happen right then but hockey players have very long memories and will take down numbers and wait for just that right moment to settle a score. Sometimes justice has to wait for the sake of winning a game or a championship, but rest assured it will always happen.

So why is there a Code? The Code, in the end, is about letting guys do what they do. Some are scorers, some are set-up men. There are guys who stop the puck and command the play. There are those that make and take hits and drop the gloves sometimes too. Everyone has a role and the team works best when they know their roles and shut their holes. A good way to piss off your team's enforcer is to be a goal scorer and fight - that's his job, quite literally and he'd be flipping burgers if he wasn't making milkshakes out of other players.

Certainly it doesn't take a Code or anything like it to keep order among athletes. The official rules and a general understanding of sportsmanship are enough for most sports and most leagues. Only two professional leagues in North America (the NHL and the NLL, pro lacrosse) condone fighting at all. Some of the greatest players in hockey earned their reputation by hardly ever committing a penalty and scoring often. The thing is those players did so on the backs of many people who dished out hits and took penalties so they wouldn't have to, and the Code is about how the two kinds of players honor and respect each other.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
My dear Wormwood,

In your last letter you mentioned in passing your patient had acquired a taste for foie gras. I sense you have not yet grasped the opportunity you have to exploit his palate. While gluttony of delicacy is a useful means of subverting the women around him, we have pressed food and drink upon men so successfully that the physical Church has long ago taken note. However they have not updated the warning for the times and it is possible that despite hearing this regularly on Sunday he may not recognize that quality is a more damning entrance to gluttony than mere quantity.

The reason is its efficiency. A buffet meal might run him a small amount and give him all the food he wants at that time, but if he can be made to appreciate haute cuisine he will no longer have interest in a smorgasbord. He will be further pressured into a desire for novelty that the cooking of his mother or his girl will not do. He will find that he needs to seek out new restaurants regularly. Foods must be paired with wines, which of course will deaden his judgment and his intellect. All the while he will spend more than he can afford and have nothing more to show for it than a round belly and a sense of pride that will form a crust around his heart through which anything of the Enemy must first pass.

Listen carefully to his thoughts when he is at the table. If you are trying to encourage the habit of attending to his plate, you may need to allow him the positive pleasure at first. Don't let him do so for any longer than you must, because the more actual pleasure he gets out of it the more grateful he will become to the Enemy for allowing him to have it. Move him quickly onto exploring foods he is unfamiliar with, especially if he believes he may not like them but his friends tell him he will. Odds are he won't like them. Whether he does or not, your objective is to get him thinking about the qualities of the foods and comparing his past and present experiences with it. Don't let him think of a meal as good or bad; let him analyze the qualities of what he is tasting. Over time you'll be able to get him to think of those initial positive pleasures as his finest experiences with eating and thus make all others pale in comparison - and he will not realize that it was because he was not overthinking his meal that he found it enjoyable then.

While doing all this, work him into making a distinction between haute cuisine and his everyday fare. Suggest to him that how much he eats really doesn't matter. Try the popular phrase "you are what you eat". Once the quantities involved are under your control you can then press his mind to override his animal feelings of hunger or fullness. By this point you will have the occasions of which he eats well under your control. He will then eat on a schedule not based on any sort of cyclical rhythm or act of obedience, but rather on when you spot the opportunities to encourage further sin. The act of dining therefore becomes a springboard into all manner of unchaste living.

Once you have a firm command on his gullet you can then use it as a means to almost any other vice. I have used this to great effect on many a patient. For example, he can be made to request changes in social arrangements based on the food or drink he expects to be present. Any such request will undoubtedly be burdensome on the hosts and his relationship with them, which can be used effectively to create discontent between him and undesirable acquantainces. Or you can send him off to the occasion, bringing his disdain with him, and allow him to show his contempt. If you play him well, he may even gain the admiration of his fellows for being so.

Should he get any vague idea that you are manipulating him by his choice in cuisine, or that his appetite is somehow getting the better of him, let him show appreciation for it to everyone he meets. Let him practice charity by large gratuities to waiters and his guests (which of course will mean he spends even more money justifying himself). If a meal should be disappointing, have him haranuge the staff to his satisfaction, and then go off in search of a "proper" meal the next night.

I must caution you one thing, Wormwood - even gluttony must be done in moderation. It offers an excellent means of separating a man from both the Enemy and his Christian friends, but should you work too effectively when he is poor of spirit he might recognize the work you've been doing on him. Be careful not to exhaust his bankroll in his pursuit. If he finds that the only food he has the means for is the modest fare of his childhood or his life before his new circle of friends he may well abandon his new and improved Christian life with the kind of repentence the Enemy desires. But if you can keep him exploring new tastes in such a way that it removes his income but does not impoverish him you can use this method for a good many years. So let him focus great attention on his food, and in good time he will be food for us.

Your affectionate Uncle,

The characters and style are lovingly borrowed from C.S. Lewis and The Screwtape Letters, hopefully in the spirit in which he intended.
invisionary: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." (subtext) "If you have already abandoned hope, please disregard this notice." (Abandon Hope)
The memoir is written in a plain composition book, obviously kept as a private journal. The ink has faded. It is written in the deliberate, formal hand of an engineer, incredibly neat and with no corrections.

I should have known this would happen. History repeats itself time and time again. Of all people, governments are perhaps the most likely to ignore the past, thinking only of their future survival, at the expense of anyone that might get in its way.

My government has a monopoly on scientists. I was in the top 1% of my class at Princeton. In theory I could have gone anywhere and made anything. And I wanted to, God, I wanted to. I saw a world where I could save lives, even make life more meaningful for people. I saw a world where everyone could have clean water, electricity, and agriculture. I saw a world where science was the key to discovering just how much God loves us. For years I worked to create catalysts, things that would spur growth and create energy.

So when I got a call from a man named Paul, saying that I was specifically requested to work on a project that would save the world, and that I was uniquely qualified to do it, I couldn't turn it down. I learned quickly nobody used their real names in anything associated with what I did. I was told that they had discovered the fundamental nature of matter and that I could - personally - help save civilizations with the power they had found. But it had to be guarded closely, or someone else could use it to harm just as easily as heal.

I got on an airplane at an Army base. Just before, I was told that when I stepped on this plane there was no going back. They would have to blindfold me despite flying in the middle of the night. That was the first moment I thought this may have not been what was described to me. We flew for hours. I was given food and water and made otherwise as comfortable as they could. Once we landed and I stepped off the plane, they took me to a room where my blindfold was finally taken off.

Matthew was the name of my new guide. He explained how my engineering research was relevant to the Project. He made it clear what they needed from me - specifically, a way to make everything work on their gadget on command, and not before or after. I was explained the ground rules of working in a beyond-Top Secret environment. Whether I wanted to or not I had to follow them. They didn't have to say what the penalty for breaking them was, although I had quickly figured out they needed me more than I needed them.

As I worked sixteen hours a day to develop a trigger for what was obviously (in retrospect) a doomsday device I couldn't help but think I had been lied to. Their version of saving the world meant destroying those parts of it that they thought were incompatible with their own survival. More coffee, more and more light bulbs, and more and more guards every day as we grew ready to see if it all worked.

The penmanship suggests the pen was being pressed down very hard, but written very quickly.

And then the day came. We had all been working day and night to get here. We knew that more people would die every day longer it took for us to do this. There were more soldiers here than ever. None of them knew about a damn thing we were doing, and most probably couldn't understand. If it went according to plan, they probably wouldn't know what had happened - they might have thought Armageddon had come or something. They wouldn't have been very far off.

Everyone stood in silence at the final countdown. Zero. It worked. Some cried, others cheered, but most stood silent. The sense of relief that we thought we would have didn't appear.

Nobody could really celebrate our success, but I took it worse than most. I was heartbroken. I knew this would only end in ruin. What could have saved the world appeared as though it would only destroy it. I could go on no more. I told them, no matter what it meant would happen to me, I couldn't go on. I would have to answer to God for what I had done, and I already had too much to answer for. I thought they might kill me then and there and not tell anyone what happened to me. I was prepared.

They didn't kill me. They sent me home, where I was told I would live out my days in isolation. I could no longer have any privacy. Any mail would be read first. I would be followed anywhere I go. They had to do this. My death would be too conspicuous, but they could not risk what I knew falling into anyone else's hands. My home is now empty, with my son not having come back from the war, and my wife gone long before.

The penmanship gets shakier and less intelligible.

Now I all can think about my only son, who did everything right. He worked his tail off to become the best scholar, the best football player, and the best leader. He graduated from West Point with honors. I received a letter from him just before he left for the war.

The letter is taped to the page. It is written in a very deliberate, heavy hand, with blue ink and in block manuscript.

Dear Dad,

Of all people in the world you will understand this more than anyone. I have been selected for an assignment overseas that I cannot tell you any details about. I don't even know what I will be doing when I get there, but I have been assured that I may very well save the world doing it. From the Academy I learned most people don't come back from assignments like this, but I plan to. You have been a hero to me, building things that I know will save the world. I only hope I can follow in your footsteps, with the strength, courage, and wisdom you taught me. We leave from Manhattan with the dawn.

May the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost watch over us all.
Love, your son, Icarus

I never heard from him again. The Trinity... Oh God, what have I done.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
This post was a long time in coming, and I honestly didn't expect the topic to come out in quite exact a form as it did.

My perspective is that of an aspiring lawyer and social worker, intending to specialize in family law and work with juvenile delinquents. I am aware of the nature of First World Problems and how in fact they do not rate on an absolute scale in comparison to people suffering physical hardships elsewhere. Indeed, when a person has reasonably secure physical safety and their basic needs met, they're doing better than a large percentage of people on the globe. This immediately goes away when someone steps into a therapist's office, though.

When someone goes to a therapist with clinically significant symptoms (meaning that the symptoms are causing major disruption in at least one area of life or moderate disruption in many) the fact that a problem is a First World Problem should be irrelevant to the clinician. What matters is that the client has a problem. Regardless of how it relates to a universal worldview their interest is in solving that problem. Therefore, the clinician's interest should be the same. In fact, the client may very well know that there are people out there that have it far worse than they do - and that knowledge actively makes the mental distress worse.

I think of a case in mass media recently about a family whose standard of living dropped drastically due to job losses. They had previously been accustomed to giving their children expensive electronics for Christmas and this year found themselves unable to. It caused strife in the household and really made everyone feel like crap. I read all kinds of derision from random commenters that they only wish they had a problem like that. How HARD must it BE to not be able to stick an iPAD in little Johnny's Christmas stocking! Actually, it is, and not just because of the disappointment he might get. It's a stark and shocking reminder than they cannot live like they used to and it hurts. It makes a person feel like a failure because they've had so much more success. While their problem might be a First World Problem in the most classic sense, it doesn't change the fact that it's rather heavily impacting everyone's life. A sanctimonious lecture about the True Meaning Of Christmas (tm) or "a good kick in the ass" will not fix that. The risk is that the onset of depression, completely understandable under the circumstances, could drive them further down. This is what a clinician's job is about.

So while I suspect that the Idol topic this week brought up many thoughts of cynicism and sarcasm, I ask you to temper these thoughts. Consider that no matter how trivial seeming they may be to the grand scheme of things, First World Problems are very real and meaningful to the people that have them, and simply telling them to get over themselves isn't going to change a thing. Respecting their problems as being important to them, helping them focus on the good, and when necessary reminding them of that good, stands a far better chance of actually solving such problems.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
Does anyone happen to have a Diaspora invite sitting around? I'd like to check it out. Much appreciation if you do. :)

Fulfilled! Thanks, [personal profile] tajasel!

I'm jurispretense over there.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
(Those of you on DW who generally skip these posts may want to go through this one anyway.)

My mother passed away on Tuesday. The only possible thing I could write about is my afterthoughts.

My mother is actually my paternal grandmother. She was a fundamentalist Christian, and as we've been going through her possessions we've seen just how much her mind had deteriorated well before Alzheimer's set in. She was a hoarder - what she hoarded was every pseudo-Christian periodical and canvass letter she got. She must have donated tens of thousands of dollars to these causes which probably only served to make some people rich. Even in her "sane" days she would never believe anything the TV had to tell her, but every letter and news flyer that claimed to be Christian might as well have been Gospel. She staunchly believed, among other things, that Jesus turned water into non-alcoholic grape juice.

She also hoarded her financial statements, but perhaps as a symbol of how intertwined her finances were with her faith, we found bank statements in envelopes with the canvass letters. School records would be found amidst copies of Midnight Call, News From Israel, and the Sword of the Lord (Google these if you like; bring brain bleach with you). Not to mention sales pitches for all sorts of miracle cures - she had really devolved into thinking quack medicine could do more than any legitimate doctor.

My childhood wasn't a pleasant one. I was abused pretty badly over the years. They thought it was their duty to beat the devil out of me. Not entirely surprising, given my biological father. I only found out on this Thanksgiving that he was a convicted pedophile and served time at least twice for it and other crimes (he died about 15 years ago). It seems as though they thought a life of austerity would be the best possible way to keep me from going down his path, so any time I asked if there was money for something the answer was no, with no further explanation (this certainly didn't help when I had to manage my own finances and I struggle with it still). Reading those bank statements betrayed that, as well as evidence most of the money earmarked for me by various social safety nets went to fund the charlatans. When my wife met me at 20 I was all of 5 foot 6 and 160 pounds - and emaciated. I didn't know any better.

I look back on this now. Everyone really thought they were doing the right thing - they were trying to save my soul, at the expense of me as a person. Nonetheless, this was primarily her work - my step-grandfather didn't want anything to do with this for some very valid reasons. But because I had a twin sister who had special needs (I think because of her being shaken by my bio-dad) she was quite accurately afraid we would be split up in foster care. She forced the issue and their marriage deteriorated rapidly. They would, however, maintain their pride and never have their arguments in front of me. In fact, they barely argued at all - both had resigned to their differences, but their faith would never allow for a divorce.

So now I come to the realization that I was an afterthought. I was a cash cow, a boost to their retirement, and that the money from benefits was used by them and not on me. Part of me thinks I should aggressively chase the estate's finances to reclaim what should have been mine in childhood, but it's not worth it.

All I want now is the truth. There are a lot of unanswered questions as to what happened when I was born through when the adoption was completed at 6. I don't really know for sure what happened with my sister. I am going to start tracking down court records about my pedophile father. I don't know if my bio-mom is even still alive, let alone where. The family has and continues to go out of their way to hide the embarrassing truth - they surely intend to take these secrets to their graves. For instance, my bio-dad died of "brain cancer" - he almost certainly did not. I have medical issues that knowing the family history could be a massive help, besides.

Then there was my cousin Roger. He committed suicide when I was a child. I don't know the details. In fact, the family has gone far out of its way to try to mask that this ever happened; nay, that he ever existed. They burned all of his possessions and all the photographs they could find. He is buried in an unmarked plot. He is Just Not Spoken Of. I found a couple of pictures of him which I am keeping on general principle. Roger's kids and I have something in common - we are a painful reminder to the family of its most embarrassing secrets that can't be ignored. Maybe we're really the elephants in the room.

The family has already done its mourning, even though the funeral is tomorrow (Saturday, December 4). There is possibly a massive tax and estate nightmare, not because there's much money, but because she hid a lot of assets from everyone. There's also the possibility of Medicaid fraud due to this and a subsequent recapturing. I thought I was going to be the executor of the estate; turns out I'm not. I would have faithfully performed this duty, but am quite relieved I don't have to. Carrying out the wishes of someone who had mistreated me the way she did would have been incredibly difficult, but I would have done it, for no matter what people may think of me when I'm gone, I would want them to do the same.

In closing, I am forced by my own conscience to uphold the archaic and sexist traditions of where I grew up. I do this, believe it or not, willingly. There are traditions surrounding death that have to do with not igniting flames when people are at their worst. No, the traditions are not fair to most people. But by following them less damage is done than to buck them. This means I accept the condolence calls with the appropriate platitudes. We assume traditional gender roles where I am the man of the house and give the instructions to my wife who dutifully carries them out, along with her responsibilities to the children. I have to answer to my given name (I took my wife's name when I married).

Since I am nowhere near as close to my step-grandfather as I was to my abusive mother, there may be one glimmer of hope in all this - I won't have to do it again. My wife's family has accepted me as one of theirs, and for all of their issues (every family has them, after all), they pale in comparison to this.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
Life as a mouse is hard enough. It's even harder when you have these sadistic humans setting up elaborate ways for you to die. Some of them are even worse than cats - they catch you, and they don't even eat you, they just pick you back up and play with you some more. It's torture, I tell ya.

So here we go again, with my buddy Green, as we get put into this running track. He doesn't like the name, but he's blind anyway, so he doesn't get it. Funny, he says that about Blue too. The screaming and rattling starts again! I know it, this time, we're not just going to get caught, we're going to get swallowed and digested.

One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Bam bam bam I go! I never understood though why they never slapped us more than six times at once. Even worse is the cheering for cheese which we never get to eat! They must be eating Havarti or something up there. We can't even get imitation pasteurized process cheese food product down here.

The earth shakes! They're setting up the apparatus again! Ya know, most mice get caught with poison or something that snaps. No, these overzealous creatures have to rig up this horrible machine that throws marbles, snaps twigs, and has a guy dive from a bathtub before lowering a net on us. Good news for us is that it doesn't always work. It works even less with those giant beasts that smell of liquid bread that's gone bad. They'd sometimes rather come up with stupid things to do with the parts.

I know when the end is near. Green got there first this time. It's this loop, over and over. Ya know when it's there. All the cheese is there. Just out of reach. Every time. C'mon, what kind of rat race is this! And then it happens. SNAP! They cheer and Green gets thrown away. For some reason they won't touch Blue. It's like he's got some safe space through all of this.

ACK! I've been snared! Oh gods, this one's it. They're cheering now. I'm waiting. For the last time? Cheese? Please? Last meal?

I get tossed into darkness. Green and Blue are there. Not that they know it's darkness, they're blind anyway. Funny, there's all these pieces of the evil machine here too. Hmmm. Maybe this doesn't have to be this way again. Maybe I can have some revenge. Maybe I can trap THEM!

Eeek! They're back! I hear something about a rematch.

I tell ya, this is the craziest game you'll ever see.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
"I'm sorry but we have no trucks in the area." - Said over and over by various Budget Truck Rental agents

Seeing as [profile] cheshire23 and Alex have the day off for Veteran's Day, and the girls' bedroom furniture was in dire need of replacement, it seemed like a very good day to make an IKEA run. An IKEA run means a 2 1/2 hour trip to the nearest one and a truck rental to haul it all back. Anyone who has ever assembled IKEA furniture surely knows about deconstruction. The first step, however, was getting to the bottom of why getting a truck was such a difficult prospect.

Bad customer service is nothing new. Still, it seemed as though they had very little concern for the problem and generally didn't want to hear out my complaints. But as a student of business, I take a bit of a sick fascination at figuring out why problems like this happen.

In all of my studies, the most common reason is a lack of "give a fuck". Yes, that's a technical term that roughly means "unable to be arsed to do business". To quote [profile] estelwen, it could also be that the "user is a SHIT-FOR-BRAINS". When an organization is full of SHIT-FOR-BRAINS it probably isn't working out.

Now I don't see Budget going out of business anytime soon. There's enough business customers that are their bread and butter. Consumer rentals are more about winning hearts and minds. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'll rent from them again, although I won't say that to their customer satisfaction survey. The fact is I'm a price-conscious consumer that will, ultimately, put up with a half hour of runaround from agents that don't know what they're doing because it saved me $50 over U-HAUL. My time is worth $100 an hour, so despite the aggravation, it works out.

All that said, I would nonetheless like to deconstruct a few SHIT-FOR-BRAINS that work in their call centers. They'd probably put me in jail though, which wouldn't work out.

Oh yes, I suppose I could also take a moment to deconstruct my relationship with my girls. Quite simply, it's based on simple love that means I will do for them the best I can for its own sake. It doesn't hurt that I'm getting to relive my messed up childhood through them; we all benefit from this. Getting a truck rental can be complicated. Assembling IKEA furniture can be worse. It means I can do for my girls what I never could have and they love it. So despite the aggravation, it works out very well.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
“Dragons devour virgins, m’lady. My only interest is in your safety.” – A D&D Dragonlance game

Dragons have this bad habit of showing up at times when you least expect and least want them. I recall myself 10 years ago having encountered a couple of them.

You see, I was in south Florida, on my own for the second time, and trying to find my feet. Didn’t work out very well, but that’s another story. What I did find was the queer part of myself, and in a way that I didn’t expect. Yes, this was me finding I have a thing for males, and simultaneously finding I don’t have a thing for excessive body hair.

I met dragons.

Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. I was getting involved with a local UU congregation and CUUPS group. I had a roommate with a penchant for modifying firearms for automatic fire, or rather so that they would cook off when you pulled the trigger and spray bullets everywhere. What I didn’t have was a job or a clue. I was more than happy however to escape the madness of a gun-nut roommate.

So, these two gentlemen, and the mother of one of them, kept a small apartment. Wasn’t much to look at, didn’t need to be. But I slowly got more comfortable with them, and myself. Wasn’t too long that hands started going places. I’ll spare the details; this is the Internet, after all, you can get all the details you want elsewhere. It was after my first gay threesome that they revealed themselves, to be thousand year old dragons with massive powers.

I ran. Back home, granted, and my parents never heard the details. But just as well.

In reflecting on this, my wife put it pretty succinctly. There’s a certain logical disconnect between people who think they have tremendous magical powers and yet cannot seem to hold down a job. One was a ride operator at a theme park; the other did tech support for a local outsourcer. Neither of them had held these jobs before I met them. I found out they lost them not too long after I fled. Both smoked more pot than was good for them.

It also revealed a lot about myself. I didn’t know at the time just what was wrong with all of this. I just knew something really wasn’t right. This was one of the very first times I trusted my own judgment on something I didn’t have a good knowledge of the facts. My gut instinct I’ve found to usually be right, and even when it’s not, I feel better for having used it if it was the best I had.

The moral of this story: if wherever you may be, there be dragons, find out before you sleep with them.

Please understand I have nothing against furries, otherkin, or anything else simply because of what they believe. Action (or inaction where one ought to act) is what makes us who we are – it is not that these dragons believed themselves to be such – it’s that they withheld a very important part of themselves until after I’d slept with them and also had little personal responsibility.