Tuesday, September 24, 2002

I'm multi-tasking. I'm simultaneously writing a procedure and pissing off a supervisor in Manufacturing. Annoying the fatass supervisor is actually great fun, but it's intermittent. Mostly I'm just writing, in laborious detail, how to operate a piece of equipment. I do this for so long then my mind takes a walk. So I do something else for a while. Just checked on one of my favorite political writers. This guy takes no prisoners and abuses everyone equally, regardless of political affiliation.

His latest thoughts: http://home1.gte.net/firehat/saudibarbarism.htm
The saga of the yellow dog continues. The kids have come a very long way with her. Until a few months ago both were pretty much afraid of any dog beyond the sister-in-law’s elderly dachshund. The daughter is still a bit intimidated by her as she sprints about and threatens to jump (a habit which has been vigorously discouraged), but the boy has fallen completely for her. They wrestle on a daily basis until he comes in covered with saliva and smelling of dog. She responds well to him as long as I am absent. Because I spent time with her early on, she responds preferentially to me, but I suspect that as he spends time with her she’ll come to favor him or at least respond equally to both of us.

She consumes terrifying quantities of food. I wouldn’t mind this too much except that she converts the food into equal quantities of ordure.

I have been considering taking her up to the cabin with the boy and I, but the thought of the three of us spending two and a half hours in my little vehicle is daunting. She’d probably go off the deep end after the first half hour or so. Then there’s the food conversion issue…

I’ve heard, too, that dogs draw bears, and we’ve plenty of them up there. I remember once sitting in the cabin while a bear paced on the front porch. He finally got bored, flung the trashcans around and headed off for more profitable adventure.

Forcing issues at work and loving it. I’ve gotten into a fun situation and I really don’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings right now. I’ve been tasked to provide automation to an area where the people are experiencing repetitive motion injuries. The woman in charge of the area is apparently miffed that she’s not doing it. Tough. She’s had years to do it. Now she’s taken to not responding to my e-mails, I guess to demonstrate her pique. But I get receipts from the system, so I know that she reads them. So I’ve gone ahead and set up a demo with a sales rep and rather imperiously informed her that she may bring her fat ass to the demo if she so desires. It’s gonna happen with or without her. Tough shit. Don’t really care if she hates me or not. It's not like she'd put out for me anyway.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Haven’t put down any thoughts since my bizarre, manic outburst of last Wednesday. Too much sturm und drang at home, too much going on at work…

Little things. I guess there are dozens of platitudes about how “it’s the little things that count”. But truly, sometimes just the smallest touches can make a difference. I ordered something from a friend’s business and she stuck in a very nice notepad with a little message on the front page. “Enjoy”. That’s all it said. That little note made my day. I enjoy hearing from her, but it was more than just that. I was a nice thought and now I have it, preserved. Not ephemeral, like the spoken word, but frozen so that I can put it somewhere and look at it once in a while when I need a nice thought.

Went to the Maryland Wine Fest on Saturday. Would seem as shame to miss it as it’s at the Farm Museum, a mere ten-minute drive from the house. I’d ride my bike if I weren’t afraid of falling off on the way home (been there, done that). Man, does that thing bring them out of the woodwork. The oh-so sophisticated set shows up in force. Guys with Dweezil Zappa glasses, women with grape vines woven in their hair. It’s a great place to get mellow and watch other people. They always have good music there, too. A jazz ensemble, some blues, a Dixieland group and, of course, Big Cam and the Lifters. Now how could you not go for a group with a name like that? They’re pretty much a staple of the local scene. They play 50s stuff and do so quite well.

Has anyone else ever had this conversation? A while ago I got new tires for my wife’s vehicle. The next weekend I got a pair for mine. She demanded to know what sort of tires I gotten for mine. I assured her they were the cheapo house brand. “Good”, she said, “But you did get a set of decent tires for mine, right?” Just in case you think this is a departure from the norm, I’m currently running her cast-offs on my vehicle. I’m driving on the tires that were too worn for her.

Wife goes out of town again tomorrow. Only for one night, though. But a night of peace is a night of peace, so I’ll take it. Woke up Friday night to her yelling at me. I have no idea what I did to offend her WHILE I WAS ASLEEP, but there it is. Found out if you REALLY want to piss a woman off, roll over and go back to sleep while she’s berating you. I just wasn’t interested. Still don’t know what I did.

Well, time to get out of here. Did some things right today, better hit the road before I ruin my record.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

God. "Meet the Teacher Night" at school. Another night of sitting elbow-to-elbow with the private school crowd. The petite women with their perfect coiffs, perfume, painted lips and annoying kewpie doll mouths. And their husbands with their chinos and executive haircuts. They came in their Expeditions and Navigators, with their matching his-and-her cell phones clipped to their belts and purse straps to ensure that everyone could see them. Then they proceeded to park on the grass, the handicapped spaces and the fire lanes just to avoid the 40-second walk from the back parking lot.

It's been a considerable time since I've experienced carnal knowledge of a woman. Several times lately I've found myself getting aroused looking at a Barbie doll. Yet, I looked around that classroom tonight at those women and found nothing appealing. Hell, I'd probably just break their damn hair anyway.
Been doing some thinking on the nature of jealousy and envy. I tend to draw a distinction between the two. Neither comes out sounding very good in the dictionary. The definition for “jealous” contains the word “bitter” and the definition for “envy” uses “discontent” and “resentment”.

I regard envy as fairly neutral. When I see a nice car, I envy the guy driving it, but I bear no animosity.

I have a brother-in-law and sister-in-law who are real pieces of work. She’s psychotic. She’s my wife’s sister--there seems to be a strong streak of psychosis in that bunch. But anyway…The two of them have never reached hard for anything. She’s a part-time liquor store clerk and he works courtroom security—also known as sitting on his ass all day in the courthouse. But to listen to them when someone drives by in a nice car, or they pass a fancy house, is an education in the ugliness of jealousy. It’s always accompanied by invective. While I say “Wow, look at that Lamborghini”, he says “Look at that rich cocksucker in his fancy car”. I just hope I don’t have to take up that habit when I finally make it.

They’re not the only ones. I see that same reaction from a lot of people. There are people I’m envious of, but I can’t dredge up any hostility. Is it the other guy’s fault that I just haven’t hit the right formula yet? Frankly, I know some people who are in situations I envy, and I have exactly the opposite feeling. I’m glad for them.

There was a festering situation here a couple of years ago. An interim supervisor was needed and the person with the most skills and experience was appointed to the position. It completely ruined a friendship because the erstwhile friend felt that she, not the more experienced person, should have gotten the position. That’s not friendship. When good things happen to people, true friends are glad for them.

And exactly what is to be envied, anyway? Money? Money would get that ketch-rigged sailboat that I’ve always wanted, but it wouldn’t necessarily afford me the time to go out and enjoy it. Quite the opposite, the demands of a high-income producing job might well serve to preclude leisure activities.

Position? I don’t know. A craftsman may have no upward mobility, but he may derive great joy each day from producing objects of tremendous beauty and utility. I’m no more envious of corporate jets and power lunches than I am of the satisfaction of a difficult creation well made. Maybe less so.

A beautiful wife? No guarantees there.

Situation. Doing something you enjoy, living the way you want to. Now that’s what we strive for. Some get there. Some get there a bit later. Some never do. But that what we want, and that’s what we strive for. And to hurl epithets at those who’ve found it in their way is ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

A day of ups and downs.

I’ll be a day late getting some data to a customer. In the cosmic scheme of things, 24-hours isn’t much time, and we did put this together on very short notice for them. I ran my ass off getting things together. They’re very grateful that we’re doing this at all for them. Still and all, though, it’s frustrating. I wanted to make get the data to them today, and I didn’t make it. To me this is a failure.

On the positive side, we tried a new assay today that none of us had ever performed and it turned out perfectly. Got a perfect curve over a range of serial dilutions and got the assay to less than 4% variance from the standard. The literature says up to a 10% variance is acceptable.

Every day and everything is a learning experience. Some are obvious, like learning a new assay. Sometimes you don’t realize that you learned something. Like slamming your fingers in a door. You don’t realize it while you’re hopping up and down, but you just learned something. It’s a constant process. Even the most mundane things are part of the constant process of assimilation of information. We just try to avoid the painful lessons.

The wife returns home tonight. She’ll probably be pleasant, having been away for a day, but there’s no guarantee. One never knows.

People here are bailing right and left, leaving early to go to the county fair. Already had the fair in the county I live in. Not up for it tonight, anyway. The kids got some movie they want to watch tonight, something called “The Rookie”. At least it’s not another Air Bud movie. I’m beginning to develop a thing against Golden Retrievers. Anyway, fine with me. I’ll kick back and watch the movie with them. And await the storm which will blow in around 9:30 or so with the arrival of the wife. If the markets haven’t closed yet, consider buying stock in liquors before I head out the door this afternoon.

Almost got a nice tenor sax for a good price last night, but some asshole with software beat me out at the very end. I watched it happen. I just want a nice horn for my kid and this asshole is going to resell the damn thing for twice the price. Got beat out in an auction for a piece of art the other day, too. I knew all along that I would, but there’s always this little voice saying, “Maybe, just maybe you’ll get it”. More of that self-delusion I mentioned earlier.

More on the art later. Maybe.

I don’t want to be the only fool who didn’t leave early today.
Mistakes ‘R’ us. I’m convinced I could fuck up a wet dream.

You want to talk about mismanaged lives, just look me up.

Followed something called a Suzuki “Swift” this morning. Should be called a Suzuki “Slow”. At some point the guy decided I was riding his ass (may have been, just a bit) and pulled onto the shoulder to let me by. The moron then proceeded to swerve back onto the road right in front of a very large pickup truck. Fortunately it apparently had good brakes. I guess driving is a sort of Darwinian thing. Idiots tend to eventually find their end on the road. Unfortunately, that end often requires the participation of a second party. Guy yelled something at me as I went by. Just trying to be friendly, I guess, so I waved back. Didn’t have time to get my hand open all the way, though. Only managed to get one finger out…

Spectrophotometer is driving me crazy this morning. I have very limited experience with them, so it’s a pretty iffy proposition anyway, but to make matters worse, all of the extremely optically sensitive quartz cuvettes have just been thrown in a drawer. People have basically just abused the shit out of them for years. I found some that are dated 1966. 36 years of abuse-you can bet your sweet ass they’re no good any more.

Catching up on my reading now with “Effects of Trace Metals on Mouse B16 Melanoma Cells in Culture”. A real spellbinder.

Tuesday. Meeting day. Don’t hate Tuesdays as much as Saturday and Sunday, but it’s pretty close. Managed to escape one meeting today, though.

It’s quite an exercise to ignore reality. It’s liberating. You can imagine yourself in places and situations you find very pleasant. But self-delusion is damaging. Painful. When reality inevitably sweeps away the delusions, replacing them with what really is, it can be crushing.

Have to sit down and have a talk with the kids tonight.

My second meeting of the day just got cancelled as well. So things aren’t all bad today. I particularly don’t like this meeting. You never heard so many words used to impart so little information as in the process development group meetings.

Doing this at work, wandering by now and then, typing a few words each time. Uncharacteristically, I’ve run out of words. Going to head back to my little lab. Maybe some thoughts will come to me there.

Monday, September 16, 2002

I've already ranted once today, but these college courses are too good to let pass without comment. So much for our self-appointed intellectual class. I know machinists who could dispense more wisdom than these idiot professors.

·Communication students at the University of Minnesota study "Language and Sexual Diversity". This class teaches how language is used in "lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender communities" and the "ways in which sexual diversity affects language use."

Do you get foreign language credit if you’re straight?

·Students can take "Who is Black?" at Harvard University. This course addresses "the social processes through which identities are constructed and changed." The course also discusses "how struggles about who is black take place not only between blacks and whites, but blacks and other racialized groups, and among blacks themselves."

Now, I’d always thought this one was fairly obvious, but I didn’t go to Harvard…

·University of Wisconsin students can study "Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles". In this course, students analyze "the themes and characters that populate television’s daytime serials and investigation of what impact these portrayals have on women’s and men’s roles in the family and in the work place."

Umm, if you’re home watching this crap, how are you impacting the work place?

·Georgetown University Students can "beam" into "Philosophy and Star Trek". Claiming that there is no better way to learn philosophy than to watch Star Trek, this course asks: "Is time travel possible?" "Could we go back and kill our grandmothers?" and "Is Data a person?"

Forget the crew—Beam ME up.

·Women’s Studies students at the University of Florida will take "Ecofeminism". These students study "western tradition’s naturalization of women and feminization of nature, drawing the conclusion that the domination of women and the domination of nature are intimately connected and mutually reinforcing."

Somehow, in the back of my mind, I think I like this concept.

·Vassar College offers students "Black Marxism". Students learn how "the growth of global racism suggests the symmetry of the expansion of capitalism and globalization of racial hierarchy."

Say what?

Hey, it’s Monday and time for a whole new set of rants and ravings. And these days one needn’t look very far to find them.

For some reason, the newspeople have been making great hay out of a picture of Chelsea Clinton that appeared in People magazine. Apparently some people are upset over it. She’s in some guy’s arms and her nipples are erect. I don’t think it’s so bad. Hell, it’s the first time I’ve ever found her even remotely appealing. They say her face also reflects “bedroom pleasures”. Can’t vouch for that, as I can’t remember what that looks like.

The state natural resources people have been running around all summer like the Keystone Kops. Something called a Northern Snakehead fish was found in a pond. According to the state people this non-native fish is a voracious apex predator and can walk on land. True this may be, but in that area the fish would need crossing guards and shoes to keep its fins off of the hot asphalt if it decided to go for a stroll. Anyway, they decided to poison the fish. But they couldn’t just poison the damn thing. They took a good month to trip all over themselves and make plans and train people and who knows what else. Then they still couldn’t bring themselves to do what they had decided to do. They decided to kill the vegetation in the pond and several nearby ponds first, and maybe the fish would suffocate. Three days later they were shocked that fish weren’t floating to the top. It’s called mass transfer and partial pressure of oxygen, boys and girls. Unless there are a lot of fish in there sucking down oxygen (and presumably our “voracious predator” took care of that problem), the oxygen in the pond will equilibrate with the oxygen in the air to maintain a partial pressure of 100%, thus supporting aquatic life. Amidst great weeping and wailing, they finally went and poisoned the ponds.

Better living through technology. The ten freaking thousand dollar computer program that runs the bioreactors here burped over the weekend. Some day I’m gonna find the guy responsible for that program and see how well he can walk with a CD-ROM stuck up his ass.

What’s up with Florida? Should we just ban them from voting at all in that state? And what set of morons would set up voting machines then wait until election day to try and figure out how to operate them?

I have a 200mM solution. That would be 29.23 grams per liter. I want a final dilution of 0.365 grams in one liter. Lemme see…One liter at 0.365 divided by number of months with 30 days, multiplied by number of days since I’ve had sex…Oops, too many zeros there…Wait…Got it. Add 12.5 ml of solution to one liter.

Now that I’ve figured that out, it’s off to the lab.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Christ almighty was it humid here today. Left doors and windows open to get some of that nice muggy air in the house and now even the carpets and bannisters are wet.

Don't have much energy tonight. The tension was as thick and omnipresent as the humidity. Have lots of thoughts to put down, so I'll keep them with me and try again tomorrow evening when I'm a single parent for one wonderful night.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Well, here are some of the ravings the title seems to promise.

I’m in a mood today.

I’m frustrated. Pissed. By everything. I’m frustrated by a marriage that I no longer want to be a part of. I’m frustrated about finding things way too late in the game. I’m frustrated by morons who anoint themselves to the ruling class.

I’m pissed off at the bus driver who pulled right the hell out in front of me this morning. If I’d hit her dumb ass I’d be on the news as the guy who slammed into a school bus.

I hear rumors of a war on terrorism. Haven’t seen much solid evidence of one, but I hear persistent rumors. They arrested five guys in Baltimore yesterday. Two Pakistanis, two Afghans and a Somali. They were living with eight other Middle Eastern men. The reason for the arrests was visa violations, but in the apartment they found a computer with fake ID making equipment, another computer with links to flight training web sites and a bunch of Arabic literature on Jihad. Well, by afternoon some idiot judge had released two of them and a third was awaiting an interpreter for his hearing. We are, without a doubt, the dumbest people on this planet.

Ted Kennedy’s dog assaulted an electrician in the Capitol building the other day. Because of this we now know the name of the dog. “Splash”. Nice, Teddie. Real damn funny. While you prance, bloated and whiskey besotted, around Washington, we all know what happened that night. Even the Massholes who keep reelecting you know about Mary Jo.

There are rumors Yassir Arafat might be stepping down. I guess he’s finding it too difficult to go out and murder Israelis with Colin Powell stuck by the lips to his ass.

Newspeople are whores. They report, breathlessly, that US Special Forces may already be operating in Iraq. Well, they probably are. But do we need our own newspeople telling Sodamn Insane that there might be US troops hiding in his abundant ass hair?

I’ve been involuntarily transferred from my R&D group to a process development group. Yet the R&D group still wants me around. Sometimes. I feel like a bastard at a family reunion. Like Dilbert, I keep my morale in a thimble.

Got a new guy in the next cubicle. Yeah, that’s right. Cubicle. Call me Milton. Just stay the hell away from my damn red Swingline stapler. Anyway, got a new guy. New guys are great fun to screw with. He avoids me now. He doesn’t know it, but there’s more in store for him. He still hasn’t experienced the exploding centrifuge tube. Or the wonderful world of liquid nitrogen.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

A yellow dog came to live with us a few weeks ago. No, not a Democrat, thank God. A real dog. Not really yellow, actually. Sort of off white.

It was all unplanned. My wife's sister had a dachshund which she doted on for 17 years. When the superannuated beast finally departed for whatever celestial reward dogs go to, she was devastated. Blinded by grief, she sought a replacement from the nearest breeder and secured a Labrador Retriever. The union lasted mere hours. Later that evening she contacted her husband at his favorite watering hole and in a rare moment of lucidity he realized that a Lab had potential to rapidly outgrow their tiny urban prison. The very next day we were offered ownership of a pedigreed dog.

Now, I'm a big proponent of pet ownership. As a kid we always had a dog and a cat. But the origins were different. My first dog experience was with a Husky that had flunked out of Air Force guard dog training. My parents brought him back with them from Alaska before I was born. I have vague memories of him. Our next dog was a mixed German Shepherd that was rescued from death row at the pound. Dog number three was given to me by a guy at a sawmill who was going to drown him if he couldn't find a taker and dog number four, once again, came from death row.

This dog has papers. She has a family tree going back five generations. I'm not even certain that I have a family tree going back that far. This is wild stuff for somone who never paid a dime for a dog. She has parents, grandparents and great-grandparents with names. Wild stuff. Like Snookims of Upturned Nose and Pammie's Fudgie-poo.

Now, to be honest, if I had a name like Pammie's Fudgie-poo I suspect I might not even like girl dogs. But even if I could suffer a name like that and still be straight, I certainly couldn't get it up for some bitch named Snookims of Upturned Nose.

So what stupid name did you give her then, you ask. Well. She was Surprise for a few days, since that's what she was. Then I thought of Dog. I like that. Dog. Well, that's not going to work, so I thought of names for a while. Nothing seemed to fit until I was looking at the sky one day as I drove home (I know; watch the road, you idiot) and Zephyr popped into my head. It was a perfect name for a 35 pound whirlwind. But no "pedigreed" names. I thought of a few, like Zephyr of Lost Hope or Zephyr of Unrealized Promise, but decided against that. Just invites questions.

She's a tiny nuclear device. Everything she does, she does at 90 miles per hour. I haven't even begun to try and housebreak her, because every time I let her into the house she tears around, grabbing any loose item she can. Her tenure in the house rarely exceeds a few minutes before I'm instructed to turn her back outside. Oddly, I can walk her until her tongue lolls out and drags on the ground, yet if she is let inside following that she finds a reserve of energy. No plans to breed her. In fact, she's headed for the knife in the next week. Elsewise she'll begin undergoing female cycles very shortly. I already have two women in this house. Don't need any more of that.

Not long ago she ate an entire bird feeder. I live in Maryland and have a young son who is a baseball fan, so it's inevitable that I should have a plastic Oriole feeder. She ate it. Maybe I should sell her to the circus as a sideshow freak.

Incredibly, she's finding a home here. It was rocky at first. My wife, who is actually more intelligent than I am but lacks a certain breadth of experience, was at first appalled to realize that dogs produce saliva. Not to mention that she can consume AND defecate her own body weight each day (the dog). Daughter remains apprehensive, but she's getting better with each day. The boy has fallen head over heels for her. They actually go out and wrestle each evening, which both enjoy immensely. In a very big way she is still my dog, since I have been the one who has spent time with her and taken her for all of her walks, but as the kids begin to lose their fear of her, play and wrestle with her, she responds more and more to them.

Unexpected she was, part of the family she has become. Soon I'll be taking her up to the cabin. I imagine I'll have a whole 'nother page to record after that.

Well, 'till the next time.
Johnny Unitas died yesterday. The greatest quarterback in the history of football. I’m not exactly a pro sports fan, but there is something about those older guys. They played in a different era. Sports figures from back then are somehow bigger than life. Not like today’s self-indulgent, spoiled athletes, who consider wife beating an acceptable form of recreation. They didn’t need a patented end zone dance to celebrate a touchdown and few had significant criminal records. Johnny Unitas threw his last professional pass in 1972. I played with the Colts' marching band four or five years later and even then, when we launched into the “'Johnny U' March”, the stands went nuts.

Unitas was working out, doing some post surgery rehab at a therapy center when a heart attack felled him. One can only imagine how they feel, having their name all over the news associated with that…

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

A weblog. Just a few minutes ago the idea wouldn't have entered my mind. It came as an impulse, fueled by an article I was perusing as I used the facilities. I'm not sure what this is. Is it an exercise in conceit? I don't know. I just have this urge to record thoughts. Preserve them. Though most people familiar with my thoughts would have a different opinion about whether they merit preservation.

Strange domain name, you say. Snake eater. Long ago I spent a number of years in Army Special Forces. Lesser mortals in the Army "affectionately" (ahem) referred to us as "snake eaters", so as I wracked my brain for a domain name it popped out. I enjoyed being in SF and planned to spend a career there, but I ended up grinding my knees into sawdust, so that ended early. I'm older and considerably rounder now. I'm now in biotechnology R&D, so I'm pretty harmless these days.

Posting here will give me something to do while I mark time online. I come online fairly regularly hoping to catch up with a friend and chat for a bit. She has a husband, kids, a business and a life. I have a wife, kids, a job and something that vaguely resembles a life. So it's a hit or miss thing. Sometimes we catch up, sometimes we don't. Don't want to say too much, since these things are subject to being misconstrued, but she's a remarkable person. Incredibly talented, intelligent and perhaps a tad too perceptive. Very pretty, too. But just a friend.

Well enough for now. But it is fun writing this as though someone might actually read it.