A Twist Of Fate
October, 2009 Entries
"If you want to save this boy's soul, you've got to pay the troll toll." - Frank Reynolds

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(10/31/09 - 10:59 PM)
Happy Halloween to all you Pagans out there.

In the interest of the occult (literally meaning 'hidden') I offer you this blog entry of things one is not typically meant to know.

Think that 'Top Secret' is really the top? Think again. Here's the list that the Government would rather you not see (in order of secrecy from bottom to top):

  • Majestic
  • Cosmic
  • Luna
  • Ultra
  • Stellar
  • Astral
  • Cosmos
  • Triad
  • Orbit
  • ZD27
    • Top Secret Cypto:
    • 28
    • 27
    • 26
    • 25
    • 24
    • 23
    • 22
    • 21
    • 20
    • 19
    • 18
    • 17 <-- President's Level Of Access (Includes Nuclear Launch Codes)
    • 16
    • 15
    • 14
    • 13
    • 12
    • 11
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
  • USAP
  • SCI
  • Top Secret
  • Secret
  • Confidential

If the nuclear launch codes are in the center, it makes me wonder what in the hell is at the top. And why the President is kept in the dark about it. Maybe it's Colonel Harlan Sanders' secret blend of eleven herbs and spices. Or the truth about how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

Who knows?

(10/30/09 - 2:46 PM)
A few people I am acquainted with have finally come down with verifiable cases of H1N1, also known by the lovely moniker 'Swine Flu'.

While this isn't normally something that gets my mind into conspiracy mode, I did find it beginning to wander into strange corners of itself with regard to the whole subject.

The following is the result. Remember: I don't necessarily believe any or all of this. But it does beg thought.

What if H1N1 were intentional? With Universal Health Care a hot topic and finally at the fore, what if this was part of the legislation package to get it passed? What if we've needed a bona-fide epidemic to finally get everyone in Congress and the Senate on board with Universal Health Care? I'd say this is the closest thing since HIV/AIDS hit the scene. But the question then is: Who's behind its release?

On another level, H1N1 could be a political and business 'blessing in disguise' to some specific interest groups due to who it specifically affects the most adversely. What do I mean? If you consider who it affects the most (i.e. - the elderly, infirmed, and the little tykes) it could take care of alot of problems that we as a Nation are facing at the moment.

To whit: If it kills off a section of the elderly, the government will no longer be on the hook for Medicare costs for those individuals, which on the whole tend to be quite high due to the failing health of the aged taken as a group.

Poorly run companies who were once juggernauts of their respective industries would be off the hook from paying all those nearly impossible to manage pensions and post-retirement benefits packages at a time when money is the scarcest it has been since the thirties.

It also works the other way by removing from society toddlers who are not from affluent families. This could work on two fronts: It eliminates tax breaks for the middle class, while also eliminating financial burdens on them during a distrought economy.

The second front would eliminate toddlers who are receiving (either directly or vicariously) public assistance in one form or another. This effectively nullifies the costs of said services, as the child no longer exists.

As a country, we also need something to take our minds off of the closing of the Iraq war. I had once mentioned that the border fence project could be a perfect facet of such a plan (should it exist), and this could also be a facet to eliminate inquiry into other goings-on in the world abroad or at home. It's, as I've also said before, a perfect distraction.

While I don't necessarily believe any of this, it does make me think. What about you?

(10/29/09 - 2:14 PM)
Got home early today for the first time this week. My Boss is back in town, and instead of my employees jumping me at the door, this morning it was his turn.

I saw a fairly large hawk perched on my neighbors fence when I got home, looking all photogenic. So, I ran to grab my camera, but a mere ten seconds later, he was gone.

But all was not lost! For as I made my way upstairs into the bedroom to open the blinds, I saw on my neighbor's deck rail a squirrel on its hanuches, also looking highly photogenic.

This photo I got. Then I started looking for the hawk once more, figuring there was no other reason for the squirrel to be holding gargoyle-still for minutes at a time unless it was in fear and/or panic of being eaten at any given moment.

Circle of life and all that.

(10/28/09 - 8:16 PM)
Ever find yourself watching a television show or movie that involves a boat? You do? Great!

Ever hear the people on the boat saying things like 'port', 'starboard', 'fore', 'aft', 'poop deck', etc? You DO!?!? Super!

Now, have you ever wondered what in the hell they're talking about, while at the same moment zoning out on those phrases hoping to see something explode? Or perhaps you're one of those who yells at the television to 'Speak American, sucker! This is America!'

Perhaps you're one of those folks whose closest encounter with a boat was watching Kate Winslett pretend she was a figurehead on a ship while simultaneously asking yourself how long this damn movie is, and how Celine Dion keeps getting work?

Either way, I'm here to help. Here's how you can speak Boatanese like a grizzled sailor who's only living for his next whiskey-soaked prostitute. Ready?

Fore = Front
Aft = Back
Port = Left
Starboard = Right

'Great', you're saying to yourself. 'So next time I need to know this, I'll have to be online to remember. Super!'

Not so! Here's how even you can sound like an old salt without even firing more than a few neurons:

'Fore' sounds like 'Fore'skin (ewwwww - gross!) and 'Aft' sounds like 'Ass'. And we all know which direction on the body these items are found (unless you're not Jewish - then all bets are off). There, now you'll never forget which is which!

'Port' and 'Starboard' are even easier yet. Here's how to remember which is which:

'P'ort comes before 'S'tarboard in the alphabet. 'L'eft comes before 'R'ight in the alphabet. So you just match the two up, and voila! You sound like you've been hanging out with those crazy Bostonians or Norwegians again!

And as for the 'Poop Deck'... well, it's pretty much self-explainatory.

(10/27/09 - 4:28 PM)
Not alot to report today. In fact, I didn't even have a blog-worthy entry until I was almost home. I was about four blocks away, when a sight met my eyes that begged photography. I only wish that I had had a camera.

I saw an elderly woman. In and of itself, this is not an unusual experience. The matron in question was cotton-coiffed, and appeared to be far past her seventieth birthday. She wore a patchwork down coat, and pink running pants with white sneakers. It was hard to tell whether she were alive or not, as she was hunched over, open mouthed and stock-still, on a riding lawnmower. In fact, she could very well have been dead. I can't say for sure.

The riding mower was a mid-size Craftsman, and was colored a deep and rich, forest green. The woman was clearly piloting the mower on its slowest setting (assuming of course, as mentioned before, she was still alive. I can't vouch for that). It plodded across her lawn languidly as she simply rode the modern-day shetland pony of iron, remaining motionless.

The thing that made the whole experience so amazingly hilarious was this:

Painted on either side of the mower's hood were beige flames. The flames went back toward the driver a solid 18", and were about 8" down the hood as well. The flames made a stark contrast against the green-going-to-black color of the hood, and the whole thing clashed not only with her outfit, but with the sight as a whole in front of my eyes. Further the color choice of beige flames on deep green astounded me as being ridiculous to the Nth degree. Who would purchase such a silly thing?

I actually laughed out loud, and stared for as long as I dared.

I just hope she's still alive...

(10/25/09 - 9:18 PM)
Welcome to a special evening installment of 'Heath Tries To Be Funny'. This one, I actually came up with while sleeping.

I know - I'm surprised too. It's also about school. This is also a bit surprising and/or disturbing.

Due to budget cutbacks, a high-school math teacher was forced to double as the Home Economics teacher.

On her first day, she sat the class down and said:

"I don't know how this is supposed to go, so I'm going with my instincts on this one, students."

With this, she wrote the following equation on the whiteboard:

Stove + X = Pie

She then turned once more to the now puzzled faces staring back at her and said, "I want you to solve for 'X' and show your work. Go!"

Thank you!

(10/24/09 - 4:27 PM)
We spent the day working around the house (alright me - not so much - I just did some small chores that I do on saturdays and Wanda did her regimine of cleaning, followed by some agressive downsizing and closet reorganization) followed by working the remainder of the day on what I have now dubbed the 'media library', as that is what it has now become.

The movies are all done, so now I'm on to the television series. It's so amazing to be able to load up a portable with literally hundreds of shows and movies, and to be able to watch them anywhere at any time. The only drawback is the tiny screen but, even to my amazement, you really don't notice it.

I know: I can't believe it either.

I'm going upstairs now to make chili (MmMmMmMm... chili) and take the remainder of the afternoon off to hang out with my keen wife.

(10/23/09 - 8:16 PM)

Whose Army is THIS guy in?

(10/22/09 - 3:32 PM)
It's finally over. Our houseguest is gone. I awoke this morning just after five AM to hear her finalizing her packing of last-minute necessities. And then she was gone.

She's found a place to stay with a co-worker who recently had their tenant move out. So, all is well that ends well.

When I finally got out of bed, I looked out at my freshly mowed lawn to see that overnight the trees had disrobed themselves faster than a drunk stripper at a single & homely millionaires convention.

It's actually mildly annoying, as yesterday the lawn looked pristine, and overall leaf-free.

Such is life, I suppose.

(10/21/09 - 5:18 PM)
I got home a little early today to find a gorgeous, seventy-two degree, indian summer day. I wasn't planning on mowing my lawn again this year, but it was apparent that one more go-round wouldn't hurt a thing, and would probably be a good idea in the long-term scheme of things.

When I went to gas up the lawn-gobbler, I noted with dismay that I only had enough fuel left to fill the mower half-way. This led me to a choice:

It takes a full tank of fuel to mow the lawn with the self-propulsion on the highest setting. The only ways to get around the situation I found myself in were to stop what I was doing and go to the gas station, or do the aerobic, non-self-propelled lawnmow that looks a great deal like a fat man running around his lawn in an effort to escape invisible zombies or some equally frightening creature.

Neither option rang terribly true with me, as I was still sick and running a fever on and off, and all my body wanted to do was lie down, close my eyes, and hope that I woke up again.

My sense of immediate laziness won out over my sense of long-term laziness, and as such I began the LawnMower 500 around my house.

I managed to mow my lawn in record time, without even using up all the fuel in the mower. All of MY fuel, on the other hand, was spent to the point of exhaustion. I was sweating profusely and thought that passing out sounded like a pretty good idea.

I came in and showered, and my body pretty much went numb for the remainder of the evening, with the exception of my back. My back was letting me know that in no uncertain terms was I to EVER pull a stunt like that again.

The positive thing was that I got a little exercise (something I have been sorely lacking since the surgery), and my yard is now leaf-free and keen.

(10/22/09 - 3:32 PM)
Heath Tries To Be Funny!

Q: Why did the middle school music teacher get fired?
A: Because he was always fooling around in A Minor!

(10/19/09 - 10:26 PM)
I got a phone call at work last week from a woman representing a packaging supply company. She asked for our shipping/receiving manager and, smelling a telemarketer, I asked whether or not she was expecting the call.

"MmmHmm...", came the woman's response.

"And are you returning her call?" I inquired further.

"MmmHmm...", she replied once more.

I figured she was lying, but sometimes they really are calling back about something I know nothing about. So, I got our S/R manager on the radio, and explained the situation.

"I don't even know who that is. It's got to be a telemarketer."

Yeah. Kind of what I figured.

With this new information loaded in both barrels I got back on the phone, "Ma'am, she says that she has no idea who you are, and so you cannot be returning her call as you stated."

"Oh, I never said that I was," came her cat-like reply.

"Yes," I retorted, "you did. I asked if she was expecting your call, and whether you were returning her call and you answered in the affirmative to both questions."

"No, honey. I said 'MmmHmm'. I'm very careful about that. I never said 'yes'."


"Well, ma'am, to me they're tantamount to the same thing. Further, if this is the way that your company conducts its business, I don't believe that we will ever have a need of your products or services."

As I attempted to go on, she jumped in:

"I'll just call back," and hung up on me.

How can these people live with themselves? Seriously? How?

(10/18/09 - 11:36 AM)
Today our houseguest found Plinky in the downstairs living room. He had a stick. Attached to it was a piece of yarn. At the end of the yarn, a crude hook made from a coat hanger dangled.

He sat still, watching a talk show on Lifetime, and sat entranced.

When the commercials came on, however, he began casting the hook at the television screen. Over and over he did this as our houseguest stood in wonder and puzzlement, until finally the commercials were over. Whereupon he sat stock-still once more, watching the show.

Our houseguest finally asked him about this, and he replied:

"Well, I was hungry, and I had heard a lot about the great successes of commercial fishing, so I thought I'd give it a try. I must be doing something wrong though, because I haven't caught a single thing all day!"

(10/17/09 - 8:21 PM)
Greetings all! It is I, Plinky the House Elf!

Before I get started, I would like to humbly apologize for my previous blog entry. After I woke up (Mistress Wanda said that I 'came to', rather than woke up, but I have no notion what she meant by that), Master Heath said that the reason he looked even worse than usual and that my head felt like it was being stepped on by a corpulent elephant was that I had something called a 'hangover'.

After some lenghty explaination that made my head throb further, I gathered that the beverages that I had illicitly partaken of were actually designed to give one the feelings that I experienced, followed by the disturbing 'hangover'.

Why on Earth humans would want to have either experience is beyond me, but perhaps it shall remain something that I will never understand because there is no way that I would willfully experience it again.


Today, Master Heath is off somewhere in the house doing something which I'm sure he feels is important. Most likely, any outside observer who was not asleep or brain-dead would feel otherwise. Such is the scope of his weekend 'projects'.

As such, I have come to you today to speak about something that I recently discovered in our neighbor's back yard. I didn't know what it was at first, but then Mistress Wanda attempted to explain it to me. This caused only more confusion, so I thought that perhaps as a service to my readers I could enlighten you with some well-founded research.

The item in question looks like a large stew pot of some kind, sits outside, and is called a 'hot tub'. It's filled with water and, I'm told, that the water is hot. Humans then immerse themselves in this water to cook, but only enough so that it does not kill them prior to their getting out once more.

I tried asking numerous shellfish about this when Master Heath and Mistres Wanda were giving them a free hot tub on their stove the other night, but the only responses that were illicited were high-pitched shrieks in tandem with claws scraping down the sides of the pot/hot tub, followed by death prior to their coming out. Perhaps they don't fully understand how a hot tub is supposed to work, but you would think that Master Heath and Mistress Wanda would, based specifically on the fact that Mistress Wanda was the one who explained it to me in the first place.

Nevertheless, the Master and Mistress made the best of a bad situation and ate the shellfish so as to keep their souls alive in this plane. I'm theorizing on this point, but this is the only thing that makes sense to me, and to be honest it is the first selfless act that I have witnessed the Mistress and Master comitting. It was almost beautiful, their reverence for these small creatures.

I wonder if they would show that sort of reverance to their neighbors whom they complain about incessantly, should they have the same unseen fate befall them?

This whole situation begged numerous questions on my part, not the least of which is why would anyone subject themselves to cooking if there were any danger of not being able to get out of the 'hot tub' in time? What possible benefits could there be? And who invented this nightmare machine, and subsequently managed to market it as a viable product to foolish humans?

And so, dear readers, my quest for knowledge began anew.

After much searching, interspersed with a movie on Lifetime about the evil that men never seem to stop doing, I could not find who had invented the hot tub. I did learn that even before hot tubs existed, early man (whoever he was - not one site used his real name, which leads me to believe that he is now in the witness protection program, like so many abused Lifetime heorines) used to intentionally immerse themselves in something called 'hot springs', which were similar to the modern-day hot tub, but smelled more like feces due to a high sulphur content in the mineral-laden water making its way up from the Earth's molten iron and nickel core.

I have no idea what any of that means, so I moved on.

Apparently, people enjoy cooking themselves close to death as it relaxes their muscles. I know this is true, because several weeks ago, Master Heath told me about a video he posted one this very blog where a girl's sphincter muscle relaxed while in the hot tub.

It is also a method of unwinding, though I can honestly say that I have never seen a wound human before.

According to WikiPedia:

"Hot tubs are known to decrease fertility in men, due to an increase in temperature in the testes. Pregnant women or women who may become pregnant may experience birth defects due to the effect of the heat on a developing fetus. Bacterial infections, including respiratory infections, may arise if the hot tub is not properly disinfected. Because a hot tub is constantly kept warm, bacteria can thrive. Water droplets are inhaled by bathers, along with any pathogens, which can infect the lungs and respiratory passages."

Apparently, this is not enough to discourage men and women from doing everything from relaxing in the hot tub, to drinking and having something called a 'four-way' in them as well. I don't know what this means, but the people I found in the photo looked pretty happy, but they also seemed to be confused as it appeared that the women were eating a part of the men that I don't have, while the men were attempting to eat the women's mammaries. Perhaps 'confusion' and 'disorientation' ought to be added to the list of dangers, as one might be eaten in company prior to being nearly cooked in time to get out with one's life.

On the whole, this was one of my more disappointing forays into understanding your strange world and habits, but I shall nevertheless persevere for you, dear Readers.

Until next time!

(10/16/09 - 2:32 PM)
I came home early from work, after doing the obligatory grocery trip for the week (we didn't need much.)

I called my sister-in-law who is recovering from surgery and talked with her for a bit, and she seemed in good spirits, on the whole.

Did the chores around the house, and got the air conditioner all snuggled in for winter, as well as trimming back the last of the plants.

Our houseguest AND my assistant's husband both landed two of the three jobs that one of our shop's customers (a pharmaceutical company, no less) had open, so I'm happy all around for the both of them. Our houseguest will now make more money than she ever has before, and has the potential for upward mobility in a company that has seen astronomical growth in the past ten years.

It may not be the perfect job, but it's still keen. And it's my understanding after speaking with the senior agent at the staffing service (who I'm acquainted with only minimally) that our hoseguest was not only accepted, but that she really dazzled the interviewing representative.

Good for you, girl!

I had to pop back in to work a bit ago to replace a motherboard on one of our CNC machines. My friend Gary took it to get a new CMOS battery soldered onto the board, as the old one had (after eleven years) finally kicked the bucket.

I felt like a total knob once I finally got the board out. There were far more connections on it than I am used to in a standard PC motherboard, because it's a military/harsh environment unit that's small in stature. The panel to access it only opens about 60°, and all the screws are in the acute angle in the interior corner. Couple that with poor lighting, a crane swinging and hitting me in the back and the fact that I had to cram hy head inside the cramped housing and it made for an afternoon frought with profanity and sounding like the great and powerful Oz as my voice echoed within the confines of the electrical cabinet when employee after employee approached me with questions.

The reason I felt like a knob, though, was that one connection seemed fairly straightforward. It appeared to be a standard, 15-pin VGA cable with a rubber boot and two clips to protect/hold it in place. After ten minutes of thinking I had it figured out, and becoming progressively more insistant with it, it dawned on me that there might just be some tiny screws hiding in there that I would never be able to see from my crappy vantage point. I did some more yoga, and with my fingers finally found the little stinkers.

But I still felt pretty dumb. Now I just hope that the damn thing works on Monday...

When I got back home, I did the burning for the week, and then emptied the chest feezer for the first time in five years so that I could defrost the little bugger. We never use the lower drawer, and now the damn thing is not only frozen shut, but the ice has begun to push on the seals causing some of the ice inside to melt, liquefy and somehow leak out.

I guessed that that meant that I couldn't put it off any longer.

(10/15/09 - 9:32 PM)
My friend Gary likes to use his high-end video camera to post things on YouTube. Below is his latest. It's a performance of the Harlem High School Choraleers in Machesney Park, Illinois, one of whom is his daughter, Julie.


(10/14/09 - 8:46 PM)
Our nephew's Jeep was stolen the other night, and was used in the comission of some robberies in Belvidere by three young men. He and his family live in a decent neighborhood, so I was surprised to hear about a crime like this in their neck of the woods. While the neighborhood is on a slow decline, I didn't think it was near that bad yet. The biggest problem was that all his schoolbooks and homework were in there, and now that it's in impound, he can't get them back until the 5-0 says so.

I wonder if the excuse will work with his teachers?

(10/13/09 - 10:06 PM)
Our houseguest had an interview with one of our client companies' representative today. I mentioned the three job openings before anyone knew about them (I have inside guys!) and she got in on the ground floor. The biggest problem for her was that they do all of their pre-screening through a staffing service, and only perform the actual interviews once the screenings are complete.

So, when I heard that the interviewer had contacted the staffing service and specifically requested information on our houseguest (I have more inside guys! How abnormal must this have been for the staffing agent?), I was horrified to learn that they told him that they had no record of her.

One of my inside guys let me know of the problem as soon as he became aware of it, and I immediately called our houseguest who confirmed the situation with a call of her own: The staffing service told her that she was not currently on file.

So she immediately drove there, explained the situation, and was told that she must be mistaken, because there was her information right there on the screen in front of her.

Once she let me know, I immediately called my guy and told him to try again and, lo and behold, now she existed.

Imagine how devestating this could have been? A perfectly qualified applicant who goes unnoticed due to errors on the part of the staffing service.

It's a scary thought.

(10/11/09 - 11:46 AM)
Greetings all! It is I: Plinky, the House Elf!

Master Heath has been a little lean on blog entries of late, and since his most interesting topic is mowing the lawn, I thought perhaps I would regale you with the tale of the House Elf Hero Snorkul who led the Ephesian House Elves during the Pressed-Slacks rebellion of 1836!

Now bear in mind that I was not around, having only blinked into existence some time ago. Nevertheless, I have it on good authority that... >COUGH COUGH<...

I'm terribly sorry, dear readers. I'm terribly thirsty, and my throat is dry. I'll be right back.


Ah! There we are! Sorry it took so long, but I'm too short to operate the water dispensers in the house, and the hose that I usually drink from was apparently removed from the outside of the house yesterday. My step-stool is also not in its rightful place, so I did what I wasn't supposed to do and got into the downstairs refrigerator. And what I found there!

Strange beverages the likes of which I have never seen before! Something called 'beer' in colorful bottles. I tried six of these, but they just made me burp, so I moved on to something called 'Margarita' in a bottle. There was a lovely yellow one and a beautiful red one. After drinking both, however, I found that I was schtill firsty, shlo I looooked for shumthing elshe to drink and found shumthing called 'Hurricane' in a blue bottle, and it was pretty and... ish it getting hot in here?

I feel hot whyiseverythingspinninglikethat...


Whooooooooopsch1111! I flel of thee schair theer fore aschecond. I fele happpy but my hed herts and why wont thespinningstop///??????

I wanna talk about pickles. I dunno why, but lishten about pickles. Theyre' importantt for schomthing I... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


(10/10/09 - 1:38 PM)
Spent the morning winterizing my house (mostly). Brought in the hoses, covered the spigots, weed-whacked the whole yard and gave the shrubs their final haircut before winter sets in. All that really leaves is to cover my air conditioner and bring in the swing from the deck, which is all just depressing because this summer just flew by.

I could see my breath the whole time I was out there, and even with a jacket on I didn't break a sweat.

Our houseguest's last day with us is tomorrow, so it will be strange to have our home back after nearly 10 weeks together with a veritable stranger and her son in residence.

I don't regret our decision to take her in, but I do wish that she had the fortitude of will to have done something more for herself. My expectations are high, because I know what I would do in her situation. The difference is I was born and bred to be a tenacious fighter when it comes to adversity, and I am wired to think outside the box and work myself stupid until I get what I need.

Some people, I think, are missing this from their upbringing (I know I got a mega-dose of it from my Boss, and most people can't work to those levels) and it's hard to instill something so foreign to them if they're unwilling to truly accept it.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. I do know that I've been blessed with a keen intellect that has gotten me far in this world, and perhaps I should not judge others for lacking it, but rather respect and be thankful for the fact that I posess it.

(10/09/09 - 4:27 PM)
As I left work today, I took a slow right onto the road. As I did so, a large hawk literally came flying over my car at a 45° angle directly over the drivers-side windshield area and scared the bejeebers out of me. What is it with flying critters and me this week?

(10/08/09 - 8:26 PM)
Welcome to Heath Tries To Be Funny But Can't Remember If He's Already Told You This One So He's Telling It Again, Anyway Theater!


Q: What do you call champagne bubble-bath if it's purchased by a blond?
A: Ditz-Washing Liquid!

Thank you! >BOW<

(10/07/09 - 8:26 PM)
After listening to the weather band in my car on the way home, it became clear that if my jungle-esque lawn were to be dealt with, tonight would be the only night to do so in the near term, as rain was pretty much a certainty in the next few days. I didn't really have the impetus to mow tonight, but I did it anyway.

In front of my house, I have two full-grown shrubs that I keep groomed to military precision. The first is a dwarf lilac to one side of my front door, abutting my garage and the house, and the second is a forsythia that sits at the corner of my home on the opposing side.

As I turned the mower so that both shrubs were on my right, and I was in-between the two, I began pushing away from the lilac and toward the forsythia. Without warning, a weird buzzing noise was heard by my ear, followed by a softball size insect that was all legs and wings flying directly by my ear and over my shoulder where it hovered for a half-second in front of my face and then darted into the forsythia.

It scared me on a lot of levels, but mostly it was just massive and loud. I figured I knew what it was, and I looked closely at where I thought it had landed. It took me a minute to realize that I was staring right at it, albeit hanging upside-down by one front leg. There it was: A 6" long praying mantis.

I've seen walking sticks and all sorts of other critters in the wild, insect-wise, but this was my first personal encounter in 35 years with a praying mantis that wasn't behind a plate of glass that a small, unruly child was pounding on as his mother watched but did nothing.

I marveled at it up close, and the thing that struck me most was the eerie beauty of their massive, compound eyes.


Oh, and check this out: CLICK HERE. I found this and thought it was just cool. Well, not for the bird, but still...

(10/06/09 - 11:26 PM)
This is the coolest thing ever. Plus, I'm a sucker for a geek trend.


(10/05/09 - 9:32 PM)
For my birthday, my wife made me lasagna (MmMmMmMm... lasagna), got me a plant (keen!) and a card. The card read:

"Sometimes I'll think about something you said, and I'll laugh, and then other people choosing tomatoes at the grocery store will wonder what's so funny about that tomato."

I couldn't have picked a more perfect card in a hundred years.

(10/04/09 - 11:46 AM)
Today I am 35 years old.


I'm spending my mid-afternoon putting together an industrial shelving unit that we picked up yesterday on our outing, and if I'm really ambitious installing a cat door.

My wife insisted on cooking lasagna for dinner (yeah, twist my arm on that one dear!), so it should just be a quiet day at home.

(10/03/09 - 7:13 PM)
Spent the day with my amazing wife, who has now been stuck with me legally for eleven years (it's our eleventh anniversary today, for those of you who can't figure out that last, cryptic sentence.)

We did nothing special and had some lunch out but, as always, we had a good time doing it together.


Okay, I just got back from a 20-minute hiatus. It's a funny story (at my expense) but I'll tell it anyway.

In the mornings - especially on Sundays - I like to compress things into the most efficient packages possible. I'll often find ways to do two or even three things at once to save time and effort. Usually, this includes letting my mouthwash do its thing while I do something else. Today's something else was spawning all the programs I use to bring you this blog. While I was typing the above, and everything was a-spawning away, I got a small air bubble at the back of my throat. My initial reaction was to swallow, but as soon as the reflex hit, my body knew better and kicked the offending, minty liquid back north. This caused a tickle in my throat. I stifled the cough that came unbidden, but this caused me not to be able to breathe, and made the tickle worse.

Before I knew it, I had turned sideways, had my hands in front of my mouth, and was coughing mouthwash all over myself. Luckily, I got most of it on my pants and shirt and not the computer. After a good laugh at myself, I went upstairs, took a shower, and came back to write this second-half of the entry.

Neat, huh?

Anyway, anniversary...

My wife is still amazing, and there is not a single day that I even remotely regret marrying her. I only wish others could experience this, as I sit in amazement every time I hear complaints about spouses, or hear about infidelity, or see men scoping out other women while with their own.

It boggles the mind to think that they can call what they have love, when I know better.

(10/02/09 - 2:27 PM)
Came home early, because after several weeks of chaos, we now have too much serenity at work. I had my hours all but in, so I ducked out in the hopes of going to the store, and getting a few things done around the house on a rainy afternoon. It got cold quick, that's for sure.

Earlier in the day, we received a call at work looking for my Boss. It was the Eagle River, Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce attempting to contact my Boss to let him know that his boat had gone for a swim without him, and might he come and retrieve it?

To take a step back: Each year, for the last five or six years (I can't recall), my Boss hosts a gathering of his old and new friends at his resorts in Wisconsin. It's a smattering of personalities, to say the least, but they all have one thing in mind: Being men, and fishing.

Usually this involves alot of drinking, fishing, farting, swearing, sports, fishing, more drinking, eating, sleeping, more drinking, and on and on.

So, to get a call that his boat was wandering alone wasn't all that out of left field. We got a second call, this time from a gentleman named Tony (super guy, by the way) at the Sherriff's Department up there, asking essentially the same question that the Chamber of Commerce had asked us a half-hour earlier.

I had just gotten off the phone with my Boss (whom I had called to make certain that someone had gotten ahold of him, but moreover to make certain that he had not been IN the boat at one time before it had gone missing.)

He was just arriving at the wayward craft as we were speaking, so I let him go. I conveyed this to the Sheriff, and we both had a good laugh about the whole thing.

Apparently, my Boss had left the whole kit and kaboodle in his boat (keys included), and had not raised the boat high enough on the lift so that the waves would not get it. Eventually, as they got higher, they slowly caressed the boat from its' mooring and carried it off like a noble raccoon does a fish carcass.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that alcohol was involved somehow in this story, as that's a rookie mistake. That, or someone who doesn't know what he's doing put the boat away - which I just can't see happening.

Interesting, and good for a laugh for me, nonetheless.

I went to the bank, and was the only customer when the forty-something, matron teller asked me about the weather, and its particular penchants at the moment. Now, those of you who know and love me know that this is about the last thing that I ever want to talk about. In fact, I'm so vocal about it that if you have enough time on your hands, you can go back a year or two and find my rant about it.

So, I answered her politely while I gritted my teeth. Then, she said:

"Well, the rain can stay north. There's a football game tonight and it just has to happen!"

What in the hoosa-fudge?

First of all: I have no clue WHAT football game is so important. No clue. No idea. And she didn't elaborate.

Second of all: HAS to happen? Really? Has to? Who in the hell cares?

Finally, I wanted to scream into the speaker that my two least-favorite topics of conversation had now been broached at my expense, and could see please see her way clear to shutting her noise-hole for the remainder of the transaction before she started down another path as I sat captive.

Instead, I rolled my eyes and just ignored her.

Politely, of course.

(10/01/09 - 5:52 PM)
I had just enough time to sneak up to the grocery store today, so I did. I had to drop off a package just south of the Wisconsin border, so I figured I was 30% to the store anyway, why not just get it over with?

I walked into the liquor department (where I always begin my omnivorous retail oddysey), and browsed the aisles. As it turned into aisle four, a stench met my nose that bespoke a lingering fart with superb zestiness. I think I still have some on me, in fact.

I high-taled it out of the aisle, but it was clear that I was following exactly the same path as the spawner of said flatulence. Worse still, as I headed to the register, there were not one but TWO patrons directly behind me. And I read their looks. And they said, 'Dude! Really? Did you HAVE to do that in here? To us? You stinky bastard!'

I cannot say that I blame them, but I wanted to wail, 'It wasn't me! I swear!'

As I turned the corner for the register, I espied the culprit. A woman in her mid to late fifties stood at the counter. I could smell a fresh volley of ass-cloud already permeating my dermal layers, and still read the disgust in those encamped behind me out of necessity, so that they may purchase their wares and begone.

The woman looked as though she had just rolled out of bed, and her clothing hung off her ample frame in a way that was not in the least bit flattering. She asked the clerk for a pack of smokes, and a pint of vodka to complete her meager cash purchase.

When the cashier asked her what kind of vodka, she looked at him like he was stupid and said, "I don't care. It's vodka. It all tastes the same."

Somewhat true, I'll grant her. But the poor clerk now had to choose a spirit that he barely looked old enough to sell. At this point, I noticed that the woman had apparently left her dentures at home as a tertiary, mop-up assault made its way to my nostrils and the nostrils of the now defeated remaining patrons. As the woman left, I could only marvel at what I had just witnessed.

Oh. And smelled.

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