Friday, January 28, 2005

Cool metro ride this morning. Well, literally, since its -2F with wind chill. But that's not what I meant.

There was a delay, which is also not what was cool, except that it meant me and about 200 other people were jammed elbow to elbow on the grey granite platform at Mt. Vernon square waiting for a late train. Normally this would be an invitation for the usual morning metro chaos: jostling people, crying children, rattling grey trains slamming in concrete vaults below the earth. Instead something else wierd happened:




So silent, that the faint flutter of the escalator could be heard if you listened for it.

200 people late for work, staring wordlessly at a dark hole at the end of the terminal, saying nothing and not moving.

The wierd effect lasted for about a minute, perhaps, but it felt like a much longer period of time indeed.

It was cool.

Then when the train came we jostled in like anchovies and the maelstrom resumed.

Then, crossing the Potomac, I noticed that the surface ice had cracked in an unusual pattern. Its blue-white crust had broken into quadrilaterals: big plates of ice which, upon release from the main ice, sank ever so slightly so that the whole surface of the river took on the look of paper mache. Even perenially ugly, stuck-in-a-bad-70's-corporate-nightmare Rosslyn beyond the river and Arlington cemetery looked like a something out of Superman's childhood: a primordial frost city with blue superpeople going to work making snow cones.

Upon disembarkation, the -2F wind shrunk my head to the size of a pebble, which sucks when you try to put a hat on. I was wrangling with headgear when a person whizzed by me on a machine with a control panel and wheels. He leaned crookedly with the debilitating effect of cereberal palsy, but he was slick and in-control. How cool it was to see modern technology giving someone like that the undersung gift of mobility. In the old days, a guy like that would have been locked away in an asylum, perfectly cognizant of his own imperfect form, but helpless and scorned nevertheless.

Finally, I ducked into the second-rate coffee shop where one can buy a styrofoam cup of burned, watery coffee for $.75 (less than half what a cup of Starbucks costs). Upon putting my lips to this scalding brew I arrived at a useful equation for determining the value of one's morning cup of coffee:

The pleasure of drinking that cup of coffee was inversely proportional to its cost relative to an identical quantity of Starbucks.

Alibraically, this is written out as follows: if "P" = pleasure, "S" = Starbucks, and "I" = the inferior cup of cheap coffee I purchased, then

$ = S
1/2$ = I
$ = P
P = S then
I = -P

(Ok, my equation sucks. I failed Algebra just as badly as I failed spelling.)

All I mean to say is that there is an equivalency between the money I save not buying Starbucks and the crap that my cup of coffee tasted this morning.

Still, it was a pretty cool morning. Oh, and for some reason the "higher ups" somewhere decided that this morning was the perfect day to switch out my old, hefty (but 100% usable) 19" monitor for a brand new 19" flat-screen monitor from the storage room in the upstairs office. No reason was given for this and *is* nice, but they're rennovating the offices next week. This means, of course, that before next Friday we will have to re-pack these new monitors and move them back upstairs to storage for the month of February. Ah, Government...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Quick: I need a word for the Blog Dictionary.

Its actually just a infomration-age word, but still.

It must mean the following:

"Sending out an email with reference to an enclosed attachment that is not actually attached."

I do this routinely, as do other people. It is a plague of carelessness that threatens to overwealm us all.

Any ideas?

CNN had a quote from a Rolling Stone propagandist explaining a recent controversy over whether they would run an ad for a new translation of the Bible. Prior to reading about this, I didn't know there was a controversy and couldn't care less if they run or don't run an ad for a book, but the language they used to backpedal was comical. Apparently they initially refused to run the ad, then they changed their mind. Here's why:

"[Rolling Stone] addressed the internal miscommunications that led to the previous misstatement of company policy and apologize for any confusion it may have caused."

I think what they are really trying to say is:

"One of our ad executives fucked up BIG TIME by embarrassing us, even though they were actually following company policy not to endorse any specific religion. S/he has been drawn and quartered by the CEO, and will be fed intravenously to the surviving members of the Sex Pistols. Praise Jesus."


Another CNN article describes a man who spent $17,000 on an ad to woo back his recently estranged wife. In the ad the guy said "I can only hope you will give me the chance to prove my unending love for you. Life without you is empty and meaningless." When asked what had led to the breakup, he said:

"It was a culmination of things," he told the newspaper. "But I am desperately trying to save our marriage."

What this translates into, for those of you who are not aware of what men really mean when they say things, is:

"I fucked someone I wasn't supposed to fuck. My wife found out about it. I have expressed to her how sorry I am that she had to find out and hope that if she takes me back she never has to find out again."


On other fronts, I looked at the Oscar nominee list and...I haven't seen a single one of the movies. Not one. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Nill. Not sure if this is something to be proud of or not. It just is what it is.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Why do child molesters always seem to look like this?

Hey kids: if you ever see a guy with blackened teeth and poopy hair, stay away!

Hey moms & dads: if you ever consider rooming with someone who looks like a cross between Charles Manson and Ted Kazynski, find a different roommate!

I mean, how hard can it be? Jeez.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Rant # 45987

Today walking through the underground Crystal City Mall on my way to work, I could not help but find myself humming some tired old Fleetwood Mac song (once pretty, now rendered dull and overplayed).

I realized what was wrong with the world today, or at least America's corner of it. Yeah, I know: the war, poverty, environmental destruction, Ashlee Simpson lip synching etc. These are big problems. But what's really wrong with the world today is canned music blaring constantly 24/7 out of unseen speakers. See, this cheapens music. It turns music from something enjoyable, something entertaining, into aural furnature. It becomes a backdrop for ordinary life, which everybody agrees sucks. It makes us feel we have to pay $55 to go to a concert to "see" music being played (a rediculous concept, truly). I, for one, am tired tired tired of it.

In the old days people used to play music themselves when they wanted to hear it. There were no CDs that rendered perfect recordings endlessly forever and ever until you were driven mad by boredom. There were no Clearchannel communications (the Ikea of radio, minus the Nordic charm) generating songlists by focus group and beaming them ad nauseum into every square inch of public space.

Fortunately, this rant is not just me yelping into the void. I have a practical solution:

Burn down all public places that play crappy robot-programmed songlists.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I had an unaccountably strange encounter last night. It began with a knocking at midnight. The house was dark and, except for the presence of this sound, was utterly quiet. Thankfully, I have not been within the walls of a tomb to know if the lack of sound in the house shared anything in common with that, but likely it did.

I lay there in the empty room, listening to the steady rapping.

At first I tried to ignore it.

I pulled the sheet over my head and squeezed my eyes tighter, willing myself to sleep before the maddening thud could claim me, but my efforts were to no avail.

I sat up, alarmed, and the instant I did, the knocking ceased.

I cast my eyes about in the blue-grey gloom. A nightlight in the bathroom made for faint shadows: the dresser, the nightstand piled with books, the african lamp with its lean, jarring shade.

The sudden quiet was even more alarming, and I resolved to investigate.

I doffed my nightcap and donned my courage.

I crept out of my room, listening to the explosive creak of the floor beneath my feet.

I stood for a moment in the hall: all was silent. Down the angle of the stairs I could make out, ever so faintly, the gleam of a streetlamp, peering crookedly through the window.

Possessed by an innate, animal courage -- a boon from my ancestors days as a monkey -- I took the stairs one by one.

All was silent save the soft snores of the puppy splayed darkly against the cool tile floor of the kitchen. There was no booming.

I listened at the door of the cellar, wondering if the sound had come from that quarter. But no: there was another dog that way, and that one was provoked to fits of howling and snapping at the slightest alien sound.

Scratching my head, casting about for an answer that I knew could not come from there, I crept back upstairs.

I re-negotiated the bedroom, hoping that nothing drastic had occurred in my few-minute foray: no sudden, inexplicable alteration in the furnature, no softly chortling marionette glinting in the closet, no atomic sun-glow from beneath the closed closet door.

I slid under the covers, expecting to feel hands reaching for my ankles from within the sheets.

When none came, I threw my head onto the pillow, rolled onto my stomach, and breathed a sigh of relief.

The booming immediately resumed, even louder than before.

My body became rigid with a dark glee: that feeling of uncontrollable horror that renders a giddy purity to even the most extreme response.

How long I lay there, unaware of sanity and utterly alone I cannot say.

But somewhere in the midst of my fit, a small portion of my brain realized something. Something fundamental.

The booming.

The knocking.

It mimicked the pounding in my ears.

Yes, that was it all along. How silly. The sound was the sonorous palpitations of my own heart, thumping telltalishly like something guilty in a Poe story.

Sleeping alone as I was, I had moved to the middle of the mattress: an abnormal location for me in a bed often full of wife and dog. The middle of the mattress acted like a resonator board on a guitar or a piano: it was capturing the beats of my heart, sending them to echo through hundreds of coiled springs, and returning them to my ear, amplified.

I lay there amid all that crazy pounding, again relieved, but wondering with just a tiny part of the brain if I had merely fooled myself. Perhaps, I thought as exhaustion overtook terror, whatever it is merely lives *in* the mattress, and is coming closer.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Check out these pictures I threw up on shutterfly: most are of friends and family, with a few misc ones thrown in and very few captions. I used my pseudonym "Matt Richardson" on the account so nobody can trace these pics back to me.

[Some wiesenheimer suggested that I actually post the link I discuss so I have edited this post to include the link.]

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I was staring at the words of my last post when midafternoon fatigue set in. This is the kind of fatigue that no amount of caffeine can compensate for. Its hardwired in. Its my circadian rythem explaining to the rest of my body that I should be sunning myself on a nice rock somewhere, scratching lice and feeling victorious for having slain a mammoth with a slingshot. Either that or its just ordinary midafternoon boredom. Sometimes its hard to tell the difference.

So I did what everyone should do at such times. I unpeeled my ass from the chair and went downstairs to purchase gummy bears.

I highly recommend the invigorating power of gummy bears. Their delisciously rubberized texture can be savored for hours as your jaw bounces up and down, unable to penetrate their springy gelatinous rhind. Whats especially cool about gummy bears is that they are an even consistancy throughout: the rhind *is* the candy. There's no annoying candy shell to get through before you get to the chocolate, no multihued layering to render your tongue black. Just corn syrup pressed into a bear mold with a bit of sugar and food coloring added. Its like eating plastic, only without the bad side effects.

So due the perfection of this delicious candy, you can imagine my surprise to read that one brand of gummy bears contains "real fruit juice".

Say *what*?

Firstly, "real fruit juice" is a liquid. As far as I know, nothing you do to it can make it stop being a liquid short of boiling it away into fruit-steam. I'm pretty sure that nothing of the sort happened here, or they would have had a much more difficult time packaging their product. So how do they get juice to stay put in a compact, bearlike body? And wont its inherent juciness diminish the chewiness of the candy's interior? This is intdeed a mystery.

Of greater importance, perhaps, is this: why would anyone care if gummy bears had "real fruit juice" in them. Does anybody buy gummy bears for their health? I know that pork rhinds got lucky with the whole Atkins fad, they went from pariah food to zero-carb miracle snack in 2.5 years. But fruit juice in gummy bears? Get real. "Here you go, Junior. Better eat this bowl of gummy bears before going to school."

I think not.

Instead, parents say: "Here you go, Junior. Eat this bowl of miniature cookies for breakfast." Or, "this Reece's Peanut Butter cup cereal will give you all of the vitamins and minerals you need to start your day off right."

People who market gummy bears with "real fruit juice" are the kind of people who market Spam by saying things like "contains real meat*"

*may include one or more of the following: entrails, giblets, pus, feces, eyeballs, ground kitten, hair.
The commercial banner that appears at the top of my blog is obscured by a blogger toolbar that I didn't consciously add. How ironic. Is this my fault? Whenever I add HTML to my template I just copy the code from wherever, shut my eyes, and drop it in wherever the cursor falls. If it looks wrong, I'll undo it and drop it somewhere else. With programming skills like this I could go work for Microsoft.

The only way I can see what my site is promoting is by clicking on the ad itself. Its like russian roulette except that the rewards are not very good and the risk is basically nonexistant.
Today's banner was a web clipping service with a boring grey blue and black site. Is it just me or have we done the grey/chrome thing to death? Maybe its just that web-clipping itself is an incredibly dull online niche.

I'm sick of colorless shit passing for style. My cube is grey-blue, my phone is grey, my monitor is colored dirty cream, the sky is grey. All this stylish 'color' around me can mean only one thing: I'm finally, after all of these years, hip, I guess. Were cubes in the early 80s bright fleuroescent orange and pink I wonder? *shudder*

I guess it doesn't matter what color a workplace is: its always going to be drab. Its the same with corporate architecture. The best-conceived plans for humanizing corporate space always come undone with years of invisible despair that soaks into everything, dirties up every pristine surface. No quantity of campy trinkets can cut the gloom. No inspirational posters can arouse great passion.

Here's something else that is always going to be boring: band photos. You know, the agglomeration of sullen-looking hep young unwashed spoiled rockstars. The guys who are too cool to be cool. The "candid" shots of chicks staring off into the distance, probably thinking about how deep making music is. The only photos I like are the goofy ones of guys like Kid Rock baring his chest through a fur coat with a gilded cane and a .45 slug around his neck. That's comedy.

Shit. I'm rambling.

You're probably going to do something sweet this weekend: race hot rods to Barstow, paint Jesus inside out, build a catapult. Maybe you'll find yourself in Lyon or Athens. Well, somebody will anyway. We can always live through them. Me, I'm going to clean my basement.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mudslides suck. So do typhoons and tidal waves and forest fires.

I'm going to go outside and express my ire to God.

[Outside, shaking fist at sky.]

Why do you do so many mean things to people, huh God? To 'test our faith?' A bit peevish, don't you think there ol' boy? Why not drum up a little standardized test of some kind. Its more civilized. Just make sure you include "none of the above" on questions of faith, because I don't have any. Not in you anyway. You catch that?

I don't have faith in you. I don't believe in you. I believe you were invented by self-important monkeys running scared on a rock in the middle of a sunswept nowhere. I believe I am speaking to nothing right now, which is why I usually refrain from engaging myself in these types of discussions.

So why don't you kill me? If 'justice' means anything to you, I should be beneath whole continents of firmament for all the spite I've reserved for you. I don't deserve your love, if thats what you call it. If you're real and I'm just another ignornat mammal with more brains than sense, you can give your love to me anyway if you feel like it. Just don't give me a mud hug and a rock kiss and expect me to sing praises to your mercy.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Clay Sails Pimps Your Eyballs to the Man

In case you hadn't noticed, I signed up for AdSense by Google. This is a service where you, my readers, earn me cash $$ by coming to my site and absorbing banner advertising.
When I first heard of AdSense I thought "that's a shitty thing to do to one's readers". Nothing much has changed since then, other than my desire not to do shitty things collided with an innate sense of greed.

See, I noticed something wierd: between the end of December and the beginning of January, my usage counter lept from mid-3000 to 17,000.

Not sure why, since I've been blogging in slow-mo lately.

Could it be because I used the word iPod in my post and Google picked it up?

That kind of volume deserves capitalist corruption. Screw 'art' or 'posterity' or 'egomania' or whatever it is that causes me to blog. I need bills to fuel my $6/day Starbucks habit.

So sit back and enjoy the rest of my post:
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I hope that was an invigorating post. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for that fat $.14 paycheck...

Friday, January 07, 2005

Textbook Definition of A Shitty Morning:

Got back from New Years in Tacoma. Hellish flight delay through Chicago (no surprises there), beautiful winter light over the Northern Rockies.

Pulled the canines out of the kennel Tuesday.
The puppy had barfed up her breakfast.
The puppy didn't eat when we got home.
The puppy didn't jump on the OGD (old, grouchy dog) when we got home.
The puppy didn't feel much like getting off the couch.
She just lay there, eyes open, and sheepishly flopped her tail a bit.

The puppy was sick.

I immediately recalled a conversation I'd had with the vet the week before:

"My puppy ate a rock," I'd said.
"A *rock*?" The vet said.
"Just a little one. I pulled it out of her mouth but she snatched it back and gulped it down.""Well, keep an eye on her. If she stops eating or vomits, bring her back in."

So there I was, home, with a sick puppy and no wife. (By the way, my wife is in Australia for the month.)

I did the calculus and came to the following conclusion:

If Clay does not take puppy to vet and puppy dies while wife is away, Clay will need to find a new home.

I called the vet. It was 7:00 at night.

"Take her into the emergency clinic immediately," the vet said, a note of alarm in her voice.

Determined not to panic, I took her for a walk instead.

I also took OGD with me, which makes the walk infinitely more complicated because the puppy jumps on OGD, chews on her leash, and simply *has* to sniff everything OGD sniffs. Plus OGD is a mean, aggressive dog and likes to eat strangers, while the puppy likes to get patted and fussed over (this temperament differential between the two dogs has led to many unfortunate misunderstandings with small children who run up to pet the wagging puppy and wind up running for their lives from a snarling OGD).

Fortunately for this particular walk, things were not as complicated because the puppy was lethargic and uninterested in OGD.

This was also fortunate because it was misting cold rain. And my jaw hurt from where I had smashed it against the bulkhead of the airplane the day before (an oddly painful act of klutziness which left me seeing stars).

So we’re walking along and I’m watching my puppy, worrying about the boulder (I suspect is) in her belly.

Meanwhile, OGD squats down on someone’s lawn and lets out a piteous stream of bright red diarrhea. She is bleeding from the ass. This substance will hereafter be referred to as “bloo”. (blood + poo = bloo)

Being a good neighbor, I pull out my trusty plastic grocery bag and try to pick up this unbelievably foul concoction of toxic fluids. It has the consistency of oatmeal and most of it slides through my fingers.

Now I’m holding: 2 big, muddy dogs, one of which must be kept away from the other, and a bag of bloody diarrhea, and a weak flashlight. None of these things must come in contact with one another (especially not me). It is raining and dark outside. The dogs weave around my legs and each others, tangling us like string macramé.

OGD squats down again and issues forth a stream of bright red blood (not diarrhea this time, just blood). She then begins scraping her backside on the ground.

The puppy thinks this is great. Despite her illness and lethargy, she decides that this is the most fun she’s had all day and jumping up to get my foul baggy seems like great fun.

Hopelessly tangled with dogs, I try to scuttle toward the DPR (Dedicated Poop Recepticle a.k.a. “trashcan”), which is 100 yards away down the path. I consider dropping the bag but realize it will resemble a sort of chew toy for the puppy. I consider jettisoning one of the dogs but OGD will immediately run off in seek of small children to eat, and the puppy will run straight out in the street in an effort to get pet by passing SUVs. The flashlight tumbles out of my hand of its own accord, splatting in the mud, leaving me in the dark.

I scuttle onward.

I make the trashcan and fling the baggy into it.

The bag misses its mark, flying instead over the top and into a small, poison-ivy ladened creek that winds behind my house. I ignore this small environmental outrage, only to discover that the puppy is eating a pile of ODP (Other Dog’s Poo) someone has conveniently left no more than four feet from the DPR.

I try to pull her away but am too tangled to be effective and I suspect that my hands are soiled. I wipe my hands in the muddy grass, unwind us, retrieve my flashlight, and go home.

I decide to wait till morning to take the dog into the vet. (For the record, I ignored the OGD’s bleeding anus for the simple reason that she *always* comes back from the kennel with blood in her stool. She is a very sensitive dog and the slightest change in routine induces her to stop eating and drinking, which causes dehydration, which causes bloo to issue from her ass. I’m guessing. Work with me here, people. I only had enough tolerance for one dog-emergency at a time and one dog is cute and lovable and the other is prickly and antisocial).

I worry half the night and check on the puppy frequently, who just lies on the couch and sighs.

In the morning the puppy doesn’t get off the couch to investigate me making breakfast. Or doing dishes. Or putting on my shoes. All of these things are activities she usually feels compelled to (literally) stick her nose in.

So she was still sick.

I am getting dressed to take her to the vet when I notice it:

Bright red/brown splotches all over the floor.

And the carpet.

Suspecting the worst, and then confirming it, I go into the basement (where OGD sleeps) and discover to my horror that it is covered in bloo. Its on the basement stairs. Its on the carpeted stairs. Its on my shoes. Its on OGD’s paws. Its ground into the doormat.

I practically burned holes in the floor with a sponge to get the nasty stuff up before the puppy realized that the whole house had been sown with ready-made snacks.

I decide to wall off OGD in the uncarpeted side of the basement, which requires sawing through a solid pressboard door (in order to fit it properly)(long story) . But I only have a hacksaw. So at 6:15 a.m. I’m sawing maniacally at a heavy door in a dark, shit-filled house. At approximately 6:17 I collapse in a dejected heap on the couch, where the puppy just sighs and listlessly tries to lick my face but gives up from exhaustion.

All of this led me to one conclusion, which is really the only conclusion anybody comes to when shit gets extreme: panic.

Fortunately, I’m only prone to following-up on my conclusions when I’m fully rested and have had my coffee (none of which applied to me so far).

So I called my boss, told her my sob story, got half day off work, called the vet, made an appointment for 10:30, went to the grocery, came home, noted that the puppy wasn’t doing any better.

She perked up considerably at the vet’s office.
$250, barium, fancy food, x-rays, 2 perscriptions, and lots of sympathetic looks later I was told that she was dehydrated.

That’s all.


A dog that drinks water like a fish and lets it dribble all down her snout in hideous gooey strands.

A dog that drinks out of toilets and foetid gutters.

I shelled out $250 and convinced myself that I was glad the diagnoses hadn’t been worse.

$250 for someone to tell me that my dog needs a drink.

(Note: if anybody needed a drink at that point it was me.)

They made me feel better by injecting water directly into the doggies body underneath the skin (a treatment particular to dogs). This left the puppy waterlogged and sloshy all the way home (leaking from places I knew not where and did not wish to guess).

I got my peace of mind knowing that (a) the puppy probably wasn’t going to die and therefore (b) I was not going to be forcibly drummed from my home when my wife came home from Oz.

I think that a car crash or a terrorist attack or word of a death in the family would have made for a much worse morning, but short of all of those calamities, I think the whole thing qualifies as one of the shittiest mornings I’ve ever had.

(UPDATE: both dogs are doing splendidly now, full of energy and passing solid waste)