Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ammo and ham

I spent Easter shooting guns and eating ham with Hedy De Vine and her family. I had never fired a gun before and it turns out I'm pretty damn good at it (sort of). Four out of my five hits on the target were made with the first round of ammo. This experience still doesn't change the way I feel about guns or my opinions on gun control, but it was a blast. I would go target practicing again in a heartbeat.

Does that make me a hypocrite?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Someone's getting the travel bug...

Recent discussion of road trips has prompted me to reminisce about some of my past adventures on the road. While some may feel otherwise, I am a fan huge of the road trip. Whether it’s the family road trip (about which most people have at least one harrowing tale) the road trip with friends, or, if you’re so bold, the solitary road trip. While I do not take road trips all that often anymore (rarely, in fact) I have experienced, to some degree, all three categories of road trips and have come to the conclusion that road trip stories often go hand in hand with TGHW stories. Trips. Gone. Horribly. Wrong. These are my favorite trips. Despite the general carnage involved in trips gone horribly wrong, they always bring a smile to my face when I think back. I have a lot of TGHW stories (remind me to tell you about walking around at 4am trying to find the police station soaking wet and legally blind….) but my last true road trip is one of my all time favorites.

Two years ago, I took a trip with a few other people to Atlanta, Georgia. The idea for the trip was the product of a heated discussion regarding No Child Left Behind that ensued after a statement was made that Georgia was nationally ranked as one of the lowest states in terms of high school retention/ graduation rates.

We had gotten an appointment with a member of the Atlanta Board of Education, we had an appointment with the superintendent of one of the school districts in the city, and one of the people on the trip had contacts at a non-profit in Atlanta that was devoted to social justice, etc. (the name escapes me now….crap). In retrospect, it seems like a somewhat overzealous endeavor stemming from a discussion, but whatever. With social change on the brain and a sense of adventure in our pockets we set off down south in a van that had a jumpy accelerator and no suspension.

Things went downhill pretty fast. We had agreed to drive straight through from Minneapolis to Atlanta and around hour 12 on the road it became pretty evident that 3 people on the trip were complete lunatics, two of which had decided that they didn’t want to be on this trip anymore and were trying to rally everyone else to turn the van around. Hell no.

Our lodging in Atlanta was conveniently located in a crack neighborhood boasting the seediest strip club I have ever seen in my life. We filled up at the gas station across the street and I noticed that the bouncer of the club was wearing rubber surgical gloves. *shudder* We had arranged to stay at a community center-turned-hostel and as we parked we noticed that the parking lot was literally COVERED in used condoms. I’m not talking about a number of used condoms strewn about; no, EVERY step you took involved stepping on at least three condoms. When asked about the condoms in the parking lot the woman who let us into the community center shrugged and said, “at least they’re being safe”. She had a point. The woman gave us a key to the empty room (literally) that we would be staying in and prepared to leave for the evening giving us a few instructions on her way out, “Showers are across the street; don’t walk too far, though. Listen for gunshots and remember, our door is heavy; ain’t no one busting down that door. Oh, and don’t drink the water. Goodnight!”

Our attempts at driving around Atlanta always resulted in one of the three lunatics screaming at whoever was driving accusing them of going the wrong way or, in the event that one of them was the driving, refusing to listen to the person who was holding the map. We got horribly lost a number of times. I let this slide, though, as this seems to be a pretty standard aspect of a road trip.

On day two of the trip, Ryan came down with the Norwalk virus which quickly spread to 3 other people in our group. I was the only one who didn’t get nauseated at the sight/sound of vomit and soon earned the title of “house marm” as I sat on the floor giving water to my retching trip mates. On night four of the trip, Ryan and I made the decision to take the latest victim of the Norwalk virus to the emergency room because he was so sick he couldn’t move. Miraculously, I was spared the agony of the Norwalk virus despite nearly swimming in vomit and excrement for two days straight.

Our 20 hour drive back to the Cities was spent nearly in silence after Lunatic 1 started to literally choke Lunatic 2 for “playing shitty music and refusing to change it”. The four Norwalk victims were exhausted from spending the last few days horking into a dirty toilet on a cold cement floor and I was exhausted from cleaning up after them.

Surprisingly enough, we managed to keep our appointments and, among other people, we had a great chat with Khaatim S. El who is an amazing guy.

Plus, I found one of my favorite pieces of street art to date:

It’s a squirrel wearing a jumpsuit!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Compassion gone awry

Bob* lives in an old apartment building. A couple months ago, Bob became aware that there were mice living in the walls of his apartment. Just recently the mice started to migrate out of the walls and take over Bob's living space. Bob didn't want to kill the mice, but Bob got fed up. Bob rigged some traps out of glass casserole dishes and wooden spoons.

When Bob caught the first mouse, he went to the park across the street to release it. Bob set the mouse down on the snow and started to walk away but then started to feel guilty. Rather than frolicking in the snow, the mouse started to shriek and run around in circles. The mouse found a footprint impacted in the snow and tried to curl up for warmth in the muddy imprint of the heel. Bob felt really sad seeing this and decided to re-capture the mouse and bring it back into his apartment.

Bob has since captured more of the mice that are infesting his apartment. For the time being, he is keeping them in a special mouse home he made and is feeding them dried peas. When the spring thaw arrives, Bob will take the mice and release them in the park.


Sunday, March 9, 2008


I’m not particularly squeamish. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that it takes a lot to make me squirm. I’ve never been afraid of bugs, but based on the way that I react to insect bites I probably should be. I’m sitting here right now soaking my foot because my toe is twice its normal size. I think I was bitten by a spider at some point today. I haven’t seen a spider in months, but it’s all I can think of to explain why my toe is so swollen.

While I was living in the quaint, yet bustling metropolis of Aix-en-Provence, France I crashed at my friend’s house a number of times. She lived in Eguilles; out in the country where the creepy crawlies roamed. I was sleeping on her floor, once, and during the night I rolled over a scorpion. I woke up the next morning with a giant welt on my hip. As the day progressed, the welt grew until it reached a diameter of about 4 inches. The woman at the pharmacy gasped when I showed her my hip and scrambled to find a salve for the bite. I wish I had taken a picture of that welt…it was so nasty. Heh.

Funny to think about those invisible monsters you know are lurking about.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I have a reliable internet connection again. Yay! Unfortunately, I don't really have anything worthwhile to post. Work has been pretty nuts lately and it culminated with a horribly shitty meeting with the president today. I don't want to spend all my energy griping about work because I love my job but I was really disheartened today. I met with the president of the company to present my budget for the year and to "problem solve" ways to turn the company's slump around in terms of my position and the department. Two hours into the meeting it sunk in that the president really doesn't care about my caseload and that this meeting was solely to make herself feel better for "making an effort". Sorry ma'am, don't expect me to kiss your ass when you pretend to care. It doesn't work that way.

Enough of that. I'm done complaining.

Since work has been on my mind so much, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of my job.

This is my office. When I started, my office was in our main building, but one of our contracts got so big we needed to lease out additional warehouse space. This was the result. My office was moved to a former carpet sample showroom with the additional warehouse space in the back. We still get "Drycleaning Quarterly" and other carpet-related trade magazines mailed to our address. They're fantastic. I've suggested that we bring in some extra money by subcontracting and renting out the crazy amounts of open space in the office by teaching square dancing lessons.

This is my desk. Notice how things tend to explode when it comes time to audit the files of your 40 clients.

These are my four dying plants. I originally only had one plant, but people kept giving me more when they didn't want to take care of their own plants any longer. I don't know why I keep accepting them because I have the tendency to kill plants and sure 'nuff these puppies are not in good health. Hrmm...

And this is Buddha Kitty, otherwise known as the Oracle of Meow. No desk is complete without a bronze-cast, slightly creepy cat sculpture.