Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the down side....

Aw, crap. Once again life has seen fit to pull the rug out from underneath me. Or maybe I somehow managed to pull it out from under myself (wouldn't be the first time). Yet one more example of a choice made that has been proven to be less than good, and will now take a decent amount of time to resolve. Of course now it seems perfectly obvious, but for some reason, it has taken me a few months to put all of the pieces together in the right order. And now that those pieces are indeed together, I cannot begin to truly express the degree of disgust I have for the end result.
In short, it has become clear that trying to get off my meds right now was a WAY bad decision. Universal lack of interest, low energy, retreating from everything and everyone, constant oversleeping, a list that is very familiar. Dammit, dammit, dammit. I guess the last thing that was needed was to hear Pinklady express concern that working too much overtime could push me into another depressive episode. Apparently, I was way ahead of her for once. Dammit.
Worse than that is the thought that i may, in addition to not being able to get off the meds, actually need to increase my dosage. Double dammit. Makes me feel like my brain is some kind of battery that just cant hold a charge anymore. Problem being, if this one goes dead, it's really hard to replace. Replacement aside, the restated plan is much the same as it has been for years now: exercise, sunlight, and meds.
I will refrain from saying that I'm depressed about this seeming recurrence of my depression. Unhappy, yes, but that seems to go with the territory. Disgusted, that also, but again something hard to separate from the base problem. Definitely frustrated, and that stands on its own. I made a choice to cut down on the meds, when it now seems I may have actually needed to increase them. I can be as pissed as I want, but it was still my doing, and now I just have to wait until I at least get back to where I was before to then see what needs to be done next. Dammit.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Myspace blog transfer (originally posted Thur, Mar 20, 2008)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

O:8S 12.5
Spring is finally being forced to take a very reluctant foothold on northern Illinois. I personally suspect that some type of legal action was needed to incite the beginning of spring this year. We’ve had some nice temps, but the sun seems to be spending it’s time elsewhere. It’s almost like October out there, but with more mud. Most of the snow has melted away, but the weathermen keep saying some more is going to show up tonight. To the tune of 2-6". Oh, goody. I was really really hoping to be able to destroy the last few remaining muscle fibers in my back. Actually, it might not be a bad thing. Maybe it will cover up all the trash, dead plants, and whatnot that seem to have found their way in to my yard over the winter (at least for another few days). Then it will be time to trade the snow shovel for the rake and the mower, and the battle of the yard will begin once again. In the spirit of lending a hand, the Thundering Herd has demolished the grass under the south maple tree, and seems to take great delight in finding new and exciting ways to encrust themselves with mud. So much for having 3 nice and clean, soft, good smelling dogs. I see much grass seed in my near future, which, the Herd will no doubt find terribly tasty. That won’t do anything to stop the immediate appearance of more brown pawprints on the carpet and furniture, though. I also greatly enjoy the little mud nuggets I find strewn in every level of my bed. On the plus side, the new (to us) vacuum cleaner does a bang up job. NEWS FLASH!!!! For those of you who may not have been paying any degree of attention at all: what you just read was the exact moment in time when I got even older. Whatever meager supply of Cool Points I may have had in stock were stripped from me at the exact instant I expressed any degree of enthusiasm whatsoever for a vacuum cleaner.
Boy, ain’t watching the economy go completely down the crapper just the most fun you’ve had lately? I could just poop. A savings account is now worth less than nothing, the value of investments is dropping at the speed of light, and all I can see in my head is Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House standing in the street and screaming ’All is well!!’ I think I’ll go hide under my bed for a while. Like a year or two. Figures that the time right after DeKalb announces that the ne high school is going to be built within eyeline of where we live now, the market tanks. Again, I could just poop. Although it would be a good time for us to buy a new house, unloading the one we have would be highly problematic under the best circumstances. Now that one bathroom has gotten remodeled (Yay, but with a $2500 price tag), all that we have left to do to make the house marketable is to redo the other two bathrooms, replace the furnace and maybe the hot water heater, and paint the outside. Looks to me like we’re gonna take the bus down to loansville. Then, with any luck, we can get out of this freakin town. Between the gun wielding nut jobs in the streets and the tax weilding nut jobs in the government, not to mention the fact that the town now looks like any other suburb between here and lake Michigan, all that adds up to a good reason to move along. It was a really nice town when I first moved here. Now, not so much. So I will trade some equity for a new bathroom vanity and hopefully be able to parley that into a step away from DeKalb. Perhaps somewhere with a nice outbuilding....
To anyone who may be interested, I seem to now have a spare toilet. Not to imply that you would be interested that I have an extra toilet, but more along the lines that should anyone be in less than desperate need of a toilet, I currently find myself with 1 more than I can actually use. Hmmmm. That’s not quite right, either. Crapper, anyone? Works fine, plain white, good for a basement, which is exactly where this one came from. I fear that should it continue to reside in my garage for too much longer, the seeds of mischief will sprout, and I may find myself undertaking some Herculean prank. Plus, Sheri has forbidden me to use it as a planter. Not that I think anyone will be interested, but should you be, just sent enough postage to cover shipping, and I’ll drop it in the nearest mailbox for you. Otherwise, I fear the garbageman will once again be giving me the look of death from curbside on Wednesday morning. If the toilet alone isn’t enough to get your interest, I’ll sweeten the deal a bit further and throw in a ping pong table. It’s only been used a few thousand times, and handsomely complements any decor.
While watching the nation’s economy crumble, and at the same time contemplating taking out a substantial loan, I did what 99.9342000475 % of Americans do when faced with a similar situation: I went shopping. Despite the programming of my Y chromosome, I didn’t go looking for monstrously annoying subwoofers, a glasspack muffler, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, a 970" LCD plasma laser nuclear TV, or a really good (or bad) lap dance. Instead, I hit the art department at VCB. In my defense, I was wearing my leather jacket at the time. On the surface, it was a simple errand. Go to VCB and find a replacement for the brush pen that had run dry. In, out, and back home in less than half an hour. That’s how it would have gone, had my chaperone been with me at the time. But there I was, alone in the art department. I managed to restrain myself somewhat, I think mostly because I didn’t get a basket and was limited to what I could hold in my hands. In the end I left with 5 brush pens, 3 bottles of pearlescent liquid arcrylic, and a small pad of canvas paper, all to the tune of less than $40. Hey, but when I got home and discovered that I didn’t have a brush for ink, I avoided temptation and another trip to VCB by salvaging the components of the brush pen that had gone dry. So there. What do I have in mind for all these wondrous components, you ask? Right now, nothing. I have a tiki to finish carving first. By the time I get done with that, I’m sure some ideas will have bubbled to the surface that I feel like pursuing. Either that, or it will be warn enough to get back out into the garage, and I’ll start work on something else. I mean, really, Halloween is right around the corner, if you stop and think about it.
I have come to the recent and abrupt conclusion that Lab Week is just over 5 weeks away. Ordinarily, this would not be a problem, but this year, it just may be. Having made a commitment to provide puzzles as a form of entertainment, I find that at the moment I have only the base mechanics for 2 out of 5 complete, and none of the actual layout or artwork is done. Now that i think about it, neither one of those has been playtested. I haven’t bothered to acquire any prizes yet, either. Unless I get my scrawny little ass in gear, I am gonna be up shit crick here pretty soon. I can’t remember how long it took me to do last year’s puzzle, but I do remember the process involved more than one redo. I’m thinking this could end in a less than good way......
I think I have also given up starting my morning glories inside this year. Something about the idea of having 7 containers of dirt in the house along with 3 curious dogs just doesn’t quite add up.
The February events at NIU have faded from prominence in the local news, at least somewhat. Merchandising has caught up with grief, now mass printed T-shirts and factory produced ribbons adorn people and vehicles all over town. The makeshift, but earnest, memeorials erected in the days immediately following the event are slowly coming under the influence of the weather. Long dead flowers, water soaked notes, and the odd stuffed animal or two jut from piles of melting snow here and there around campus. Shock has given way, at least a bit, to politicians making grandiose speeches about what should or shouldn’t be done with Cole Hall. The mention of a $40 million price tag for demolishing the building shocked most people back to the here and now, even more so when it was suggested that the state foot the bill. Who gets to decide whether the price of tearing down the building outweighs the grief it represents? Who should shoulder the financial burden? Seems like too much to consider all at once. With each side of Cole Hall being the size of a large movie theater, the notion of losing that amount of lecture space can’t be a good thought for anyone at the colllege. But I don’t think I could easily sit and take notes knowing that someone had been shot to death right in the spot where I was sitting. Then I took the next mental step. Working at a hospital, I have more than once considered how many people have died in the very place I work. Just last night a 24 year old woman died as a result of a car accident. Did she have plans for today? Did she have a pet at home that wonders where she is? What of all her family and friends that are now dealing with her sudden exit from the world? Is her life worth a $40 million price tag? Why were all the news helicopters not in the sky broadcasting every moment of the event live? Was her passing any less tragic, violent, unexpected, or undeserved? I can appreciate how much easier it is too grab the remote and sink into the couch it is than to even think for a second that every moment of every day, there are people dying all around the world. People you may have really liked if you knew them, kids, forgotten elders, total assholes, and people of every stripe in between. It does make me grasp how the idea of heaven has such an allure. But, having wandered far from the original topic, I find myself no closer to an answer to the Cole Hall question. I think for now, I’m OK with that. When you find youself out in the world today, try to keep in the corner of your mind how temporary an event we actually are. Let that temper your actions and keep you more firmly rooted in the moment.
Been a quiet week for games for no real good reason I can think of. The only recent play was thanks to the Princess Cowgirl who admitted to enjoying Monopoly, and that was all I need to hear. I dragged out the really nice 60th anniversary edition set that I have, and commenced to grabbing every property I could get my hands on. Now, if you are indeed a resident of the USA and have not played Monopoloy, first of all, you have blown my mind. Secondly, I will not bother to describe the game, as I think it is part of the Constitution that all Americans must have played the game at least once in their lives. If you haven’t , you are required by law to move to Canada. Sorry for the inconvienience.

*A mocha, Spidey Super Stories, and rubber bands-thanks for an interesting weekend, Kittyluv.
*How long can someone operate in survival mode before losing it? Hopefully we won’t find out anytime soon.
*Is Ms. Sparkly Drawers on her way to IN? We can but hope.
*It absolutely REEKS in micro. Even more so than usual.
*Why the hell did Amazon M show up in my dreams this week?

Myspace blog transfer (originally posted Sat, Mar 8, 2008)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

O:8S 10.7
First of all, let me extend thanks to all of you who expressed your concerns over the past week. It's nice to know there are people out there who will let you crash on their couch, take you out for karoke, or just listen while you run your mouth for ridiculous amounts of time. It is my nature to retreat and analyze at such times of high stress, so I appreciate the time and space everyone allowed me, as well as the many offers of support I received. Thanks.
(Here is yet one more example of a smooth transition being almost impossible...)
The first game to come off the shelf (almost 2 weeks ago now) was a game that arrived at my doorstep a few years ago courtesy, once again, of Big Bri. Solotaire (Milton Bradley, 1973 (I was only three when this game came out, how bout you?)) is an odd hybrid of poker, keno, and bingo, in my best estimation. You can play it by yourself, which is the only reason that I can come up with for the name of the game, as it has nothing at all in common with the widely known game of solitaire. At least in any version that I am immediately familiar with.
The board for this game is a 5x5 grid of card sized pockets that are tipped slightly towards the player. This allows for a card to be played in each pocket, while at the same time keeping the top half of each one clearly visible. Now, while I was fortunate enough to have been given a set with all of its original parts included, should you happen to acquire a copy of this oldie that is without it's original deck of cards, be aware that only bridge width cards will fit into the pockets on the board. Not that I actually believe for a split second that you will ever, ever, in the course of the span of your entire existence, actually need to know that unbelieveably ridiculously esoteric bit of trivia. But I have the satisfaction of knowing that that may spur someone out there to go to incredible lengths just to prove me wrong.
Play begins by shuffling the standard deck of playing cards and dealing five, face down, in a line from the upper left corner of the board to the lower right corner. This is the starting setup for the basic game and the few variants described in the rules, which are printed on a half sheet of paper folded in the middle. If you take out the pictures and all the empty space, they probably could have gotten the whole thing onto the front of a 3x5 card. (Translation: the game is very, very simple) Play then proceeds by drawing the top card from the pack, looking at it, and placing it on the board next to any card already on the board. This continues until all 25 spaces on the board are filled. The face down cards on the diagonal make initial placement of cards rather speculative. But as soon as a pair or better is played to the board, you may then reveal one of the face down cards. Once you get these cards exposed, you gain some slight degree of perspective on where cards drawn from the pack should be played. But not much.
Madness! you may say, but allow me to explain the goal, if I may. The object of the game is to score points by playing your cards to the board in such a way that they form poker hands in the rows and columns. These rank, just as in poker, from the lowly one pair, to the grand and exalted royal flush. Points are awarded based on the rank of the hand made and range from 2-100. Once the grid is filled with cards, each row across and each vertical column is checked for scoring poker hands and awarded points. The total of the 5 rows and 5 columns is your score for the game. Should you somehow manage to subvert every know theory of random distribution and perhaps buckle the local space/time continuum with a localized wormhole effect, you just may be able to reach the maximum possible score of 625. Since I happen to be fresh out of plutonium this week, I usually score around 50 or so points.
The game itself is insanely benign. It reminds me of something my grandparents would have been able to play with each other. By the same token, it may be simple enough to bridge a multi-generational gap and be suitable for players at great differences of age or intellect. If you can find it, keep a copy on hand so that when the folks get tired of trying to play Guitar Hero with the kids and grandkids, you can send them to the kitchen with it. Keep them quiet and out of trouble, you know. Now, if you're one of those people who can play solitaire on the computer for hours and hours and have a kick-ass time, you may want to try and find this game. Me, I can sit and deal a couple of games, and then I vary carefully pack it back in it's box, and put it back on the shelf. I like having it in my collection, not only because it is in fantastic condition, but also because it is the only game I have that has a celebrity's picture on the box (Lucille Ball). Now, if I still had that copy of How To Host A Murder, I would have 2 that fell in this category (Vincent Price).
I'm still not sure why I grabbed this one for Kittyluv and I to play while we waited for some others to show up. Not my best selection, I must confess. We worked our way through a few rounds, and probably would have been just as entertained had we sat and counted the swirlies on the ceiling.
After that somewhat disappointing start, we moved on to Blokus (Educational Insights, 2005). By that point, the Princess Cowgirl had arrived on the scene, and the three of us sat down with this interesting tile placing strategy game.
The Blokus board is an unbelievably plain silver plastic affair with a slightly raised grid that divides the surface into a 20x20 field of squares. The playing pieces are most reminiscent of Tetris shapes, but in jewel toned translucent plastic. The pieces are also sightly grooved so that when they are played on the board they stay firmly in place and don't slide around, much like a deluxe Scrabble board. The pieces range in size from 1 to 5 squares, and each player starts with an identical set of 21 pieces. To begin the game, the first tile you play has to cover one of the four corner squares. After that, each subsequent tile must touch one you have already played, but only at the corners. Pieces of the same color can never touch on a flat side. Play ends when no one can play a tile anywhere on the board. A penalty of -1 per square of unplayed tile is applied to anyone unable to play all their tiles. Players who do manage to play all their tiles score +15. If the 1x1 tile is the last tile they play, and it is the last tile in their stock, an extra bonus of +5 is added to their score.
This game has all the hallmarks of a classic game, and, given how many awards it has won, I am not the only one who thinks that is the case. But you know those goons at MENSA. Always up to no good. Anyway, it has a very simple set of rules, a totally equal starting point for all players, and a basically nonexistent randomness factor. All of which, in my book, are things to look for in a classic game. Another feature is the exceptional balance between attack and defense that a player needs to maintain to be successful. And, after sitting down with four players, all at differing levels of skill, the balance inherent in Blokus meant no one was prematurely routed from the game. It was lots of fun with multiple players, and far more challenging than I had thought it would be.
While I made mention of the fact that the board itself is rather unimpressive, as play progresses and more and more tiles are laid, it morphs from a drab silver plate into an ornate work of art. Unless the people who invented the game beat me to it, I am working on a way to light the board from below, which should provide a most lovely gaming experience.
Last up to the table this particular evening was Munchkin (Steve Jackson Games, 2006). As a formerly fanatic collector of just about every single thing TSR ever printed (not that I ever got a lot of use out of them, I just collected them), I can really appreciate anything that takes a humorous swipe at the elitist world of role playing games.
**DISCLAIMER** Long have I railed against colllectible/customizable (is that even a real word??) card/game systems for bringing about the death of the role playing industry. I mean, anything that ends up with TSR being owned by Hasbro simply cannot be good in any form. Now comes the time when I may have to at least nibble on the corner of my words regarding this subject. While not exactly customizeable (that damn word again...) or collectible, it is indeed expandable, which I know will be sufficient to get me into long, drawn out semantic arguements with any number of people. Tough nuts. I don't care.
Munchkin is a completely card based game, so there are no maps, record sheets, endlessly confusing tables, or fistfuls of dice to roll. That's kind of a shame, since that was a big part of what made D+D fun. All you need besides what comes in the box is something that lets you keep track of what level your character is (rocks, poker chips, gallstones, midgets, or anything like that). What then, you may rightly ask, is there to assist me in my battle against Munchkin foes like the level 10 Floating Nose, the level 2 Large Angry Chicken, or the preposterously scary level 18 Squidzilla? Well, the game is as full of ridiculously helpful items as it is rife with exponentially nasty enemies. To aid you in your quest to become a level 10 character, you may find such handy things as the Tuba of Charm, the Electric Radioactive Acid Potion, and the Nasty Tasting Sports Drink.
If what you've read so far hasn't clued you in, the game is a riot. Gamers and non-gamers alike can enjoy the backhanded humor of the game. The simple, yet hilarious illustrations on the cards themselves are often as funny as the results that the cards produce when played. I mean, on this particular evening, my character spent a good portion of the game with a chicken on his head. Not to mention what happened to Kittyluv. And don't always rely on your fellow players to not screw you over. This is not only condoned by the rules, it is frequently encouraged.
We managed to squeeze in one game of Munchkin before we called it a night, and didn't quite get all the gameplay kinks figured out. The one thing that became fairly obvoius really quickly was that you should be prepared to die quite often in the beginning part of the game. Beyond that, I just had a lot of fun with this one. I hope to pull this one out more often, and maybe even invest in a few expanders. If you wanna come over and try to defeat the level 1 Potted Plant, or take your chances encountering the Duck of Doom, feel free. But I will warn you that I've got my eyes on your Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment, so don't turn your back for too long.

*Gloom and Dilbert have taken their places on the shelves.
*Gotta get those records copied for Kitttyluv....
*Will winter ever freakin go away???
*Did Thoreau set out to give me a crisis of conscience, or did it just happen to work out that way?*At what point does it become problematic to hear you contractor say, 'It'll be one more day....'

Myspace blog transfer (originally posted Sat, Mar 1, 2008)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The call....
The light went out at 1018, and the phone rang at 1100.

Myspace blog transfer (originally posted Friday, Feb 29, 2008)

Friday, February 29, 2008

The phone....
There are times when the phone rings, and you know whatever is waiting on the other end of that line for you isn't good. That call that comes a little too early or a little too late, or when the phone rings over and over again, in spite of your best efforts to ignore it. Those are the times you just know something isn't right. The ring that makes your heart go a little bit faster and causes every thought of disaster you have to rush to the front of your mind. Then, there are the times when you get blindsided. You're in your sweats just watching tv, eating cereal right out of the box, and the second you say 'hello' into the reciever, life reaches out and slaps you cold. I don't know which is worse: knowing that it's coming and having to wait, or having it drop out of the clear blue sky into the middle of your day. This week, my experience falls into the latter category. And somewhat into the former.
I was surprised to pick up the phone and hear my older sister Amy's voice. I hadn't spoken to her since the day of my grandmother's funeral. This was the funeral I debated for days about whether I should go or not. In the end I decided that it would be basically going to the funeral of a stranger, and the few good memories I had of her would be what I kept. When I told her that I wasn't going, her silence on the other end of the line told me what she was thinking without her needing to say a word. So the second I heard her I knew it was going to be about something bad. I was correct.
'Mom had a stroke', she said. That was when I felt that little chill in the pit of my stomach. 11 AM on a Tuesday morning was not when you expect to get a call like that. She went on to say that she was paralyzed on her left side, but could still respond on her right. She was in the ICU at Mehtodist in Peoria, and they were obeying her living will, which states, 'no tubes, no heroic measures.' That was two days ago. After speaking to her nurses and learning that her eyes were deflected down and to the left, and she was no longer responsive, it was as if I could hear some huge ancient clock in the background ticking. Palliative measures is the tecnical term, I believe. Keeping her comfortable until her body gives up. Either the bleed will keep growing, and it will crush her brain against the inside of her skull, or her organs will fail as she starves. The greatest fear would be reaching some kind of in-between vegatative alive-but-not state. Something she had hoped to avoid via the living will. That would be the one thing I would most hope would not come to pass.
Here I sit, on a rather slow night at work, typing and contemplating. As a kid, I guess I never really understood how awkward a situation it must have been. Having your ex in the next town over, and having your daughter living with her, and your son going to visit on occasion. When dad died, and I decided to start digging into the family past, I had no idea that each and every shovelful would be loaded with secrets, and lies. I simply not process what was being told to me. And without the other side to compare it to, I couldn't evaluate it. Even knowing the past, there was no change of uniting the family. So, I decided to drop it. I let that past, that family, fall away. They split into their two factions and retreated to their corners as soon as dad was in the ground. Never did a single one of them ever darken my doorstep. And eventually, I realized my place. Which was somewhere in between, but not really part of, either group of them. All parties involved were entrenched and stubborn, but I ended up being the furthest away (except for Robin, who escaped without a trace many years ago).
For now, edging away from the dark cloud that is the reality of the family, I am left with remebering Saturday morning spent at Nortwoods Mall, back when going to the mall was actually an event. Eating at Orange Julius, which used to be downstairs at the JCPenney end of the mall, across from Kay-Bee toys. After they went out of business (Orange Julius, that is), we would always eat at Garcia's Pan Pizza by the slice (Home of the flying tomato brothers!). Trips to the second hand bookstore that would net me dozens of books. Going to garage sales and looking for treasures. Renting a big stack of movies from the Convienent store where she worked. Burning down the trailer. Games of Scrabble and Upwords. Sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the living room. The first time I got looped on Amaretto. Coming home on Sundays reeking of cigarette smoke. Not always agreeing on things. Those are the things I will remember as best I can, while I sit here and wait for the phone to ring yet again. This time with more final news. That will lead to more questions, and yet another trip straight down the center of Illinois on I-39. I'll try to combine that trip with hopefully getting to see a couple of old friends, one of whom will most likely have my ass sleeping on his couch.

So one more link in the chain is lost. Another key to the convoluted history of the family gone. The secrets she holds, and bodies she buried, will be lost to history. She never saw my homes, never met my pets. She sort of knew a couple of my friends, and barely knew my wife. My art was unknown to her. For these things, I feel a deep hurt. Likewise, I am sure my abscence caused hurt in return. It still remains true that the phone lines, the mail, and the roads do go in both directions. So, I will miss her, the person I interchangeably called Lynn, mom, or mom1 or 2 (depending on how I figured it), but not as an active part of my life. A loss of history, a bit more of my past swept out from under me. A melancholy loss, not a crushing blow. So, the clock continues to tick, ominously booming through the corridors of my mind, counting towards that moment, that moment when her light will go out, and the moment when my phone will ring.

Livejournal blog repost (originally from May 19, 2008 @ 1305)

CHAPTER ONE: Feel the burn!
I have a blister at the base of my right index finger. I have an 'almost' blister across the middle of my right palm. Several of my knuckles are scraped raw. Everything from the tips of the fingers on my right hand across my body to the tips of the fingers on my left hand is a tad achy. If it was simply another sign of my descent into middle age, I would most likely be a tad upset by it. But, since it is the result of me going on a carving binge, I see it as a good thing. Just a little reminder that it does indeed take some effort if you hope to get better at something. Having already garnered the distinction of being the most bad-assed tiki carver in my house, I have moved on to conquer our street. Up next, the city, the county, the state, and then the whole world! BWAHAHAAAHAAAHA!!
If sharpening my artistic skills leads me to be able to conquer the known universe, that would just be a side bonus compared to improving as an artist. I just have to remember to not hesitate when using the 'A' word in reference to myself. While it may be true that just about anyone could do what I do if they really wanted to, I have to remember that most people don't want to. Most people won't get up to change the channel, and think that microwave popcorn takes waaaaaaay too long. That makes if safe to assume that most of those same people wouldn't spend 40-80 hours carving a log. While my efforts may not be perceived in the mainstream as 'Art', it is widely known that I am more than willing to tell the mainstream to go fuck itself. I'm an artist. Deal with it.

CHAPTER TWO: Why Did It Have To Be Good?
It is with great shame that I must admit that I have subjugated myself to the will of mass marketing and allowed my will to be made one with the rest of the populace. I went to go see Iron Man. It's usually quite interesting to go see a movie that is an adaptation of a comic book with Pinklady. Her knowledge of all things superheroish is about nil, so she can go into a movie of that type without any preexisting notions. Most of the time I have at least a basic knowledge of the hero and their back story. In this case, my knowledge was indeed limited to the very basest things regarding the hero. This was one comic book that as a kid/teen never really caught my interest. I don't see that as a bad thing in this case, since it let me sit back and watch the movie without having some idea of how I think it should all go. since I'm not able to completely geek out and give you a frame-by-frame analysis of how the movie was right or wrong compared to the comic book, I can just tell you that I thought it was pretty darn good.
I liked the fact that the entire movie wasn't done as a continuous CGI scene. Another pleasant surprise was that the dialog wasn't composed only of snarky one-lines exchanged over explosions and gunshots. Pinklady was able to follow the story and understand the characters all on her own, which is a great credit to how well the story was told. When I found out that the running time was almost 2 1/2 hours, I did get a little apprehensive. I seem to recall other superhero movies that suffered greatly from bloated story lines and horrid pacing. This movie failed to get stuck on any of these points, moving along at a very good pace throughout. The number of characters introduced was also well balanced against how important they were to the story line. All in all I was pleasantly surprised by what seems to be one of the better superhero movies to come along in a while.

CHAPTER 3: And Then There Were None
Seems like we've hit another point of multiple employee shedding at work. Every few years we have a major upheaval in the employee roster. We've had a couple fired recently, another transferred to our sister hospital in Sandwich, and if I remember right, we were still short staffed before all this happened. Now it's almost a dead lock that Ms Sparkly Drawers will be making her way to the exit in the next three weeks or so. Mix in the usual dose of 'so-and-so is looking for a different job' and 'so-and -so is about to get canned' and it seems to make for a very unpleasant atmosphere around the ol' water cooler. I think we've hired two new people, but I don't know how helpful that's going to be with summer vacation season coming up and one of the day techs soon to be departing on maternity leave. Looks like the forecast is calling for gross with occasional extended periods of crappy in the near future.

CHAPTER 4: I Have No Idea What You're Talking About....
For some reason, I find myself returning to thoughts of No. 1 on a regular basis. I still can't think if there really is something there that I need to discover, or if the whole thing is just something I shift my attention to as an avoidance reaction. As I keep picking at the whole thing, I do tend to see little glimmers of insight here and there. My current line of thought is that this image of No. 1 that I've held on to for all this time is somehow representative of personal qualities i value, want to have, or some combination of the two. So I hang on to that image just in case I happen to invent a time machine over the weekend and zap myself back to 1987 there's a very slight chance that I might be a better match for her.
I cannot begin to explain how totally disheartened that statement makes me feel. Reality sucks. To have to say that if I were to meet her in the present it would be a complete and total unknown as to whether or not there would be a snowball's chance in Hell that I would recognize her, much less be able to form a relation ship of some kind with her, stinks. And then to turn around and have to say that if I were to go back in time it's still a complete and total unknown as to whether or not there would be a snowball's chance in Hell that a relationship could be created also sucks. I really don't want to give up on that sliver of hope, that little element of perfect fantasy, that warm and fuzzy Hollywood ending. My track record with starting and maintaining relationships isn't the greatest in the world, so there is really no reason to think that this one, were it ever to occur at any point in the span of human history, would be any different. It just really suck major donkey ass to have to admit that.

CHAPTER 5: One Pill Makes You Larger, One Pill Makes You Small.....
In trying to fumble my way to some minimal degree of understanding of the deep seated roots of all these things, I can't help but wonder what role the Happy Caps play in all of this. I'm running through my usual spring ritual of 'I really want to get off of these damn pills'. as I start getting outside more and my level of physical activity goes up, I really don't seem to have as much of a need for them. So, I then wonder if there is an actual physical need for me to keep taking them, or if it has been shifted off into the realm of a mental habit? The nicer it gets outside, the more likely I am to start skipping doses, intentionally or not, without seeming to have any adverse effects. Then, logically, I start running in the direction of, 'Well, if I don't need them in the summer, do I really need them in the winter?' I don't want to be on them forever. I also don't want to erode back to the state I was in three or four years ago. I'm also not fond of the fact that the dose I need to be on to keep me on an even keel seems to keep increasing. Blech. I already feel like a balloon floating at the ceiling: up, but not going anywhere. Not that the state I was in twenty years ago was so much more wonderful than how I feel now. There are just times when I find myself struggling artistically to replace all those jagged emotional edges that used to be such a large part of of my work. Those edges, along with the more rampant parts of my libido are what the pills seem to have taken away from me. It's such a huge damping effect that I still don't haven't gotten used to it yet. I can't decide at the moment what exactly what I want to do. All I know for sure is that it's been about a week since I took my last dose.

CHAPTER 6: Down In The Mouth
In a recent conversation with the Actress, I suggested that she may want to consider becoming a dental hygienist, as there seems to be a steady demand for them. Her reply was basically that she wasn’t young enough, pretty enough, or big boobed enough to be a dental hygienist, based on what she’s seen. I decided to test this theory when I went this week to get my teeth cleaned (no cavities, by the way). I was all set to prove the Actress wrong, but it turns out that I couldn’t. My hygienist, the same one I’ve had for years now, is a super-cutie. She’s not be cute in a vapid, big boobed blonde way, more like a mother of three running close to 40 kind of way. I really think she should stop tanning, though. Anyway, score one for the Actress.

CHAPTER 7: Has It Been A Year Already?
Ray’s memorial service was this past weekend (finally (pardon the pun)). The entire Suchner clan descended on DeKalb to attend the event. Nothing really major to report, and now that the event has passed, I doubt we will be seeing that group as a whole until the next death in the family. The family can be easily split into two factions based on their geographic location for most of the year, thus giving you the Michigan group and the Minnesota group. The members of each separate group are very close among themselves, even across boundaries of immediate family. Then, if you consider them as an entire unit, they still seem to be quite close. Now, that having been established, I come to my point. Even though I have been attached to this unit via marriage to one of the immediate members for over 15 years, I have been given no avenues to actually become part of the group. This weekend was no exception to that. I’m hoping that on the occasion of the next family gathering I can arrange to skip town for a few days. We’d probably all be more comfortable with an arrangement like that. It’s just another shining example of my horrid interpersonal skills.

* So far, the possibility of the upcoming (?) 20 year high school reunion has caused two old classmates to pop out of the woodwork and find me on Facebook. Now I’m wondering if any more will show up.
* Mother’s Day. The score thus far: one MIA, one dead, one incommunicado.
* Happy upcoming birthday to the Pirate Queen! It will be interesting to see if my gift goes over well. After all, it has been a while.
* Brick has almost finished the stone cladding for the foundation. All that remains to do is the west side under the deck. Seems like we’re going to have plenty of stone left over, and not a clue as to what to do with it. I guess that’s better than running short, though

What? No cheerleaders?

CHAPTER ONE: What kind of mileage do you get?
I have officially given up on waiting for anything resembling good weather to come to northern Illinois. I fully believe that it will continue to be windy and uncomfortably cool for eternity. The sun will only appear in bursts of 30 seconds or less, which will be sufficient only in making the grass grow enough that I have to mow it every week. So, after checking the tires, oiling up the chain, and building myself a carrier out of an old milk crate, I took off on my first commute to work of the season. The ride in ended up being a mere 3 miles, but the 18.672 cubic tons of gear I was carrying made it seem much longer. Seriously, I am bringing less shit with me tomorrow. It was a totally uneventful trip, except for the people who haven’t finished sealcoating the parking lot at the hospital yet. As a result of that, the bike rack was moved, and I was on the verge of getting to close to a nesting Canadian goose that has taken up residence close by. She seemed to be quite peeved by the whole situation. I can never remember, is a goose hissing at you a good or bad omen?
Got a good look at the trail on my way in, so I’m thinking the trip home should be pretty uneventful. Gonna try using my trusty Maglite, which I have secured to the handlebars by way of a couple of hose clamps, as a headlight. Once all the trees and underbrush fill in, the trail is like a black hole in a coal mine at midnight during a solar eclipse, and there isn’t a light anywhere along it’s length. But for now, I don’t feel like going all the way down Sycamore road to Hopkins Park or Hillcrest. If I go that way, I think it more than doubles my inbound trip mileage. The flip side is that there is no light on the trail, and very little along north First Street. I’ll probably end up doing both, depending on what I feel like when I leave work. I’m thinking that I will be leaving out substantial amounts of detail should the subject come up in conversation with Pinklady. She’s already less than fond of the whole riding home at night thing, so why throw gas on the fire? Unless, of course, that fire should become necessary for me to be able to see where I’m going.
To all you nay-sayers out there, let me tell you what I think is ridiculous: the $200+ a month I’m spending just to keep my cars moving around. I know that aint squat compared with what some people are spending on gas, but that’s fine, ‘cause I bet they’re even more hacked off than I am about it. So, for the foreseeable future, the car sits immobile in the driveway as much as is possible. Plus, seeing if I’m willing to ride to a particular place will be a good test of just how important it is for me to go to that place at all.

CHAPTER TWO: On Easy Street
I had a day off yesterday. That is something that in my near future may become extremely rare. As usual, I had a pile of little scraps of paper covered with all sorts of notes regarding things that I thought I needed or wanted to get done. Now, a mere 24 hours later, here I am back at work, with just about nothing to show for yesterday. Except for the big ass mark I left in the office chair from all the time I spent playing video games. Not to say that constituted everything I did yesterday, but all the other stuff was of such minimal consequence it really didn’t matter.
So here we again reach the point where I become irritated. I want to be upset that I didn’t get anything of a creative or interesting nature done yesterday. I want to feel justified that it was someone else who took my entire day away from me, I was powerless to prevent it, and if they hadn’t, I would have generated some masterwork that would have rocked the world of art to its very foundations. Because then I can be indignant, righteous, and a victim of oppression. Here’s the pissy part, kids: There aint no ‘Them’. In case you may be wondering, there aint no ‘They’, either. As much as it chafes my balls, and I can guarantee you that it does indeed chafe my balls quite mightily, ‘Them’ and ‘They’ is me. I chose to plant my behind in that chair and play games because it was easy. All the hard work had already been done for me. All I had to do was unplug my brain and enjoy all the pretty colors. Didn’t have to be outside in the chilly weather. Didn’t have to interact with any real people. Didn’t have to deal with any uncertain or unfavorable outcomes. It’s sooooo easy. No effort required, all you have to do is willingly give up part of your life. I just keep hearing what Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Dammit.
I have bitched about this before, yet even though I sort of understand the result of taking those easy actions, the consequences of them seem to have no real impact on the way I live. Ironic as it may seem, it almost appears that I am waiting for an easy way to stop taking the easy way of doing things. So what is the root of that type of behavior? What is it about putting effort into something that makes me react in such an avoidant manner? Where has my sense of urgency and wonder regarding the present moments of my life gone?
Ouch. Mucho ouch. That seems to do nothing but point out how far off the path I’ve gone. Double dammit. Way past time to get back on the meditation cushion. Yet one more simple thing that takes a lot of effort.

CHAPTER THREE: The Ledger of Doom
There have been times in the past when the government has hinted that hard economic time may be upon us. I can’t seem to recall any of those warnings translating into anything that actually started to show up in our personal finances to any great degree. Until now. The usual Saturday morning ritual of paying bills and doing the general accounting has gone from a minor annoyance to a nausea inducing experience. The mere thought that we are still paying off Giftmas presents from 2 years ago makes my head swim in a most unpleasant way. Our plummeting bank balance tends to make me see black spots in my field of vision. The mounting remodeling costs cause me to break out in a cold sweat. Pinklady’s non-essential (to most people) line of work adds an incredibly high multiplier to my overall anxiety level as of late. I now dread the arrival of Saturday mornings as if it was the time assigned for me to pour molten lead into my belly button.
Fortunately, at least as far as I know, no one is lurking in the bushes waiting to repossess my car, and when I flip a switch on the wall, the lights do indeed come on. That makes us much more fortunate than a lot of people out there right now. Still, the seemingly endless downward slide we seem to be on, the continuing distress in the economy, and the rather unsettled condition of things at my place of employment are all making me very, very nervous.

CHAPTER FOUR: Where were you on the night of the fourth??
I realize and acknowledge that I have been spending way too much time analyzing and obsessing over things in the past as of late. (Not that I seem to be overly willing to change that pattern of behavior, but I do recognize it.) Not that it isn’t a fairly regular event for me to participate in, just seems like I’m getting hung up on it a lot more lately. Anyway, I have a laundry list of reasons for it that I’ve been parading around, any one of which you can feel free to take or leave as you wish. I also now realize that the preceding sentences have absolutely nothing to do with the actual topic of this section. Just for that I shall slam my foot repeatedly in a door so that I may share the pain that I think you must be going through, dear reader.
Forget what I just said. No foot slammage gonna happen here. I just realized that I got 2 of my topics crossed up. I heretofore retract my previous heartfelt apology and now forcefully demand that you continue to read on.
We’ve all watched that scene on the cop show where they bring in a suspect for questioning, and then they leave them to stew in the room with the one-way mirror. OK, here’s the thought I just had (several days ago). It would be nice at this horrifically uncertain junction I find myself at currently, if I as the suspect in the scenario, could know what the Fates, as the cops, were saying behind that one-way mirror. (Even though my vague knowledge of the Fates in mythology reminds me that they were indifferent to humans) But now that I think about what I’ve just laid out as a scenario, maybe it would be worse to know that you missed out on something that could have been fantastic in your life. And as most of you know, I have a looooooong list of perceived missed opportunities. As a side note, I wonder if I fall on that ‘What If’ list for anyone else. But, to go back to the theme of the previous section, I made my choices in the past, a great deal of which were not the best. Bad stuff resulted, various people were hurt in various ways, and multitudes of thing remain unresolved. For that, I can hold no one else responsible, as much as that FUCKING SUCKS!! So now I’m stuck with that little gem of knowledge, but also seem unwilling to do the work necessary to get out of/past all of that. Did I happen to mention the rather gargantuan degree of suckage involved in this whole thing? Just wanted to make sure that wouldn’t get understated, y’know.

CHAPTER FIVE: Counting Giant Mutant Insectoid Sheep
I’m not sure if it’s stress, the change in the weather, or the fact that I’ve cut my med levels way down, but it seems my dreams have returned with a vengeance. They seem to be way more vivid, active and just damn bizarre than I can remember them being for quite some time. Nothing really terrifying, just such an avalanche of images and long running sequences after a long drought of non-memorable dreams that it boggles my little brain a bit. That, I think, seems to lean the argument of cause towards the decreased meds. Related to that, I have had a couple of anger flashes that seemed to come hard and fast out of nowhere. Reports concerning the state of my libido are available upon request.
In playing with my med levels, am I cracking open a floodgate that is better left closed? It’s not really possible to selectively keep the bad things in and just let the good ones out. Guess for now I’ll just play it by ear and see what happens. The idea of the 2 week reload period for the meds doesn’t really thrill me should things start to go sour, but I’ll just keep hoping that I never have to cross that bridge.

CHAPTER SIX: I’m On Vacation (In My Head…..)
Going back to the puddle of poo that is the economy, I guess I should be happy that my hours at work aren’t being cut (so far) or eliminated. With the upcoming departure of Ms. Sparkly Drawers, it instead seems like overtime and extra days of work will be the way things will be going for who knows how long. The whole notion of taking a vacation this summer seems to have vanished as fast as a fart in a top down convertible. I’ll just have to keep an eye out that I don’t max out on benefit hours and stop accumulating them. Hopefully things will settle down over the summer and that will leave me in a position to take time off in October for the reunion and for Halloween. For next month I need to decide if I’m gonna work just 16 extra hours or if I’m gonna go for the whole 48. That just leaves me needing to survive the next five months and hope that no one else quits and the new hires all get fully trained in a prompt and efficient manner. Awwww, crap. I get the feeling I am gonna be so screwed…..

CHAPTER SEVEN: What Isn’t Better On a Schteek?
Holy Crap! The unthinkable has occurred! I actually picked up a project that I had started at least a year ago, if not 2, and freakin’ finished it in a couple of days! I can’t hardly believe it myself! Come, dear reader, and bask in the radiant glory and wonder that is the ‘Tiki on a Schteek’. Look for the pics on my home page.

CHAPTER EIGHT: Cool, But They Better Do The Walking For Me…
For a split second, I was sucked by a trans-dimensional vortex sideways into an alternate reality where I was a real live participant in ‘Sex and the City’. Allow me to explain before you begin hurling any heavy or jagged objects. In my somewhat random roamings of the ‘net, I happened to find a pair of boots that I really liked. A pair of leather, ass-kicking, made in Spain boots. To the tune of $318. You read that right. I did not leave out a decimal point. With shipping, it comes out to like $35 per toe. Still, I cannot express to you just how choice they would look with the new kilt I have my eye on (a bargain at $215).
Maybe next decade…

CHAPTER NINE: Oh, Sure, It’s In The Mail….
I think I join a good portion of all of you out there when I ask, “WHERE THE HELL IS MY DAMN ECONOMIC STIMULUS CHECK!?!?!?”
Yes, I am well aware of my rant in the previous section and how it appears in conjunction with this section. As soon as I can figure out a way to only need to eat every third or fourth day, I’ll use that check to buy myself a new kilt.

CHAPTER TEN: Can You OD On Happy?
As I stated in passing earlier, I am going with my idea of taking a reduced dosage of my chemically compacted cheerfulness in hopes of recovering some of my creativity. Gauging by my dreams and other random mental activities so far, a ¼ dosage seems to be having exactly that effect.
SIDE NOTE: My subconscious sucks ass. Here’s how I know this to be true: In my dream last night No.1 made an appearance. There was no long and passionate glance, no random sexual encounter, no riding off into the sunset together. Instead, No.1 tells me that she’s not sure that this relationship would ever work out. WTF IS THAT SHIT!?!?! My own dream and I can’t even win??? My own brain is working against me! Holy crap! Shot down by my fantasy woman in my own goddamn dream!! Fucking unbelievable! If my dreams start imitating my reality, I see no need to have them any more! Once more I encounter a majorly huge degree of total suckage in my life. INSIDE MY OWN DAMN HEAD!!

The 2 rumors I have heard in circulation at work that cause me the greatest degree of irritation are as follows:
1) For various reasons, all of which will be justified through various survey results, the raises this year for all lab employees will be exactly 0.
2) Due to the shuffling, firing, retiring, and quitting of various personnel, it has been suggested that we will not pass our CAP inspection this time around.
Taken singly, either of these is a Bad (please note use of capital letter) thing. If they both come to pass, the end result may be far worse than whatever I could imagine.

* Foundation work: done. Appearance: awesome.
* Dhawk has finally been spotted! You had me real worried there for a while, but it's good to hear from you!
* This year's oddest garden experiment: hardy banana plants. Times 2.
* One of the best comedies out there that you never heard of: "The Amateurs" starring Jeff Bridges. Don't freakin argue with me, just rent it.
* Looks like tonight will be our first bout of big thunderstorms. Hope the damn birds aren't nesting in the gutters again....
* I swear my eyes are changing from brown to green.

Yet another 'net place....

Here we go with another 'net experience. Will it be able to trump Livejournal? I guess I'll find out....