31 January 2008

Super Lego Mario Super Awesomeness

If you played this game as much as I did when I was a kid, you'll love this. Made me all nostalgic for playing this after school while having some kind of kid snack, probably fruit roll-ups.

29 January 2008

It’s going to take a lot of fireworks to clean up this mess

*fyi: metaphors and language in this post might offend you. I’m pissed.*

So, watching the state of the union last night enraged me, mostly because Bush appeared so pleased with himself and I’m so damn mad at him for the mess he’s made. Not like the country hasn’t been fucked up for years … the groundwork for this current recession was laid at least as far back as the Clinton years.

I had to turn off the State of the Union after … not very long. Don’t worry though, I skimmed the full transcript so I’m still informed. I like that this version of the transcript notes the pauses for applause or laughter, but not how Bush’s little black piggy eyes twinkled with self-delight at every scripted reaction from his flunkeys. Way to go, dickhead, you made your yes-men chortle at your jokes! One of my favorite highlights:

I have a message for every American who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you; for you, the Social Security system will not change in any way. (Applause.) For younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. … As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers. And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts.

Hooray for Americans 55 and older, you chose the right years to be born in and President Bush congratulates you! Screw you younger people though; y’all need to keep paying into this system to support the aging generations stupid enough to bring you into the world, then pay again for your own retirement (preferably into an 401K or other stock market account that will also help shore up Wall Street’s shoddy shortsighted business practices.)

And then people express surprise when I tell them that I’m not sure I want kids. The only fucking retirement plan I'll ever be able to afford is made by Smith & Wesson; there’s no way I’ll ever have enough money saved to stop working. And I’m talking about working for my own benefit, never mind a dependent or two.

However. You can get the bad taste out of your mouth by watching this. The man does a genius impersonation of Bush and the clip is only about 3 minutes.

Anyway. Out with the old and in with the new, right?

Actually, I’m not so sure that anything new is coming down the line. Whoever gets into the White House is just going to continue doing more of the same. Even if I didn’t believe that, it wouldn’t matter, because I live in Massachusetts. I guess I’ve got a shot at influencing the primary candidate on Super Tuesday. I’m not registered for either party (haha, like I would register Repugnican anyway.)

But who wants phone calls from one party or the other? Bleh. I get enough unsolicited crap from political cults – seriously – and “non-profits” which don’t disclose the percentage of donations which actually go towards the cause you ostensibly wrote a check for. Also, dickbags should be sending me a check, because I just got the bill from the January oil tank and it is A THOUSAND MOTHERFUCKING DOLLARS. Coming right on the heels of the SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS I paid to heat the house (and the dripping hot water faucet and empty apartments above and below us) in December. So now my heating bill for this winter so far is SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. I think that’s more than I’ve paid in TOTAL for the past 2 years. So I guess the meaning of “capped oil prices”, as defined by my oil company, is really more like “we’re gonna put a cap in your ass and you can suck it up or freeze, bitch.”

Yeah, I get that oil prices are market dependent but I also get that I’m being raped by the market. Yay capitalism! Keep driving your huge cock up my ass while I bend over, I love it hard and bloody. So thanks very much for making this oil war, Mr. President. In your genius effort to gain a foothold in one of the major oil fields in the world, you’ve made prices go to 100 dollars a barrel, in large part because of war uncertainty. Speaking of uncertainty, don’t get me started on the stock market (although actually Wall Street has been fucking things up for at least 15 years now, I can’t blame a single administration for that.)

Which gets me back to being disenfranchised. If I want to do anything with my vote in the Mass primary, I’d probably give it to Romney (former Mass governor) because I think he’s less electable than John McCain (who is looking more and more like a really good contender for the Republicans) and I suppose a Democratic administration is marginally preferable to a Republican one, although I don’t think well of either party.

One thing that has struck me in watching the democratic primary race (and keep in mind that this is the first election I’ve been in the country for and eligible to vote in since 1996) is how weird everyone seems to feel about Senator Clinton, like they were all kind of on the fence about her in the first place and were just looking for a reasonable excuse to jump ship. Her campaign has started using some icky nasty rhetoric against Barack Obama and yes, I find it icky and nasty too. But a lot of people are saying that’s why they’ve stopped supporting her, which … what? You didn’t realize most political campaigns are run this way? You didn’t realize HRC was a politician? What sandhole has your head been in? Ditto with her pro-war votes.

Leaving aside the fact that she’s so divisive as to be practically unelectable (plus an HRC nomination for the Democratic party is guaranteed to stimulate the right wing nuts to crawl out from under their rocks and swell the ranks of voters against her), I just don’t hold it against her that she’s rolled over on a bunch of shit because it was politically expedient to do so. You know which politicians don’t roll over and will speak out? The ones that are so entrenched that taking a controversial stance won’t affect them. (Ahem, Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Really fucking brave to diss HRC or speak out against the war when you’ve been in the senate –or maybe just Congress – since 1962. Nineteen sixty fucking two. I had to get my calculator out but that’s 45 years (depends on if you count 2008 or not.) It’s not that I disagree with him when he says the war is bad or that he supports Barack Obama, I just think he’s a big blowhard who’s risking zilch and therefore I don’t give his words much weight.

Also I appreciate that HRC has been in Washington for a long time and probably knows everyone. I know that creates its own problems but I’ve noticed that at work and in regular life, having a good relationship with someone – your pharmacist, your boss, your sister – makes a BIG difference in trying to get things done. Not that I would necessarily vote for her since her willingness to do what’s politically expedient means I can’t trust her to stick up for my interests, but who am I kidding? No one gives a shit about my interests.

Anyway. If you don’t like HRC then your option is Barak Obama and I’m not in love with him either because how can I judge someone with no report card at all? (Although I still hope I spelled his first name right.) Possibly I’m just jaded because the campaign for the current Mass governor, Deval Patrick, was similarly grass-roots and messages of hope and inexperience* and since Patrick has been in office, I haven’t seen much in the way of changes, apart from some casinos coming to Massachusetts. Woohoo, that means a lot more money is going to go into a few pockets in central Mass and a few more people will probably develop gambling addictions and Patrick will claim he’s added X numbers of revenue dollars and X number of jobs during his tenure when he runs for re-election.

But I guess I hope Obama gets the democratic nomination, because I prefer him to Anti-Choice McCain. Bleh, though. The whole system is just really crappy. And it’s easy for me to pick holes in someone else’s campaign or administration – one of the things I find amazing about the Presidential primary races is how many people want the fucking job. You could not pay me enough money to be President, for reals.

…Or maybe I am just really crabby because after all that, I did wash my jeans (spilled milky tea on them) and lo and behold! now they are too tight. Fucking hell.

* Deval Patrick is also black, which I feel like adds another similarity to the Obama comparison but I don’t know how to factor race into my campaign strategy analysis so apart from noting it, I’m going to leave it out. Sorry.

21 January 2008

red beans and rice didn't miss her

Excursion outside Las Vegas on last week's trip. The desert climate rocks.

las vegas desert rock climb

I think these mountains make my butt kinda look big, though. Must be the camera angle. Riggggghhhhttttt...

18 January 2008

Necessity's sharp pinch

Following up:

So, Zoe has decided to accept the diabetic food. She's pretty thin, though and her coat is looking ratty. She's also developed a sore on her spine which I hope doesn't turn into one of those diabetic lesion things that won't heal. She's seeing the vet monday for the sore and for a blood curve to see if the food has stabilized her blood sugar. (Thank you, vet, for being open on Martin Luther King day. I know it's less nice for staff but I adore you for it. And I adore my own company for giving me the day off. Also happily I am seeing my prescribing psychiatrist on Monday - good to go and good not to have to juggle work stuff with driving an hour each way for the shrink.) Zoe's 13. She might just be starting to circle the drain. I do hope she doesn't die 2 days before the wedding but humans outlive most pet animals and I'm realistic. Right now she's a little droopy but her quality of life is pretty good, so we're still looking at treatment. I don't want her to go any sooner than she has to.

Re: Dave's craziness, he is actually taking steps now to deal with it. The mental health system in the United States (and what I saw of it in the UK, too) is FUCKED UP. If he had a life-threatening wound, the receptionist on the other end of the phone would treat it like the crisis it is, but if you call and say you're having mental health issues, they're all, "not taking new patients ... don't know anyone who is ... click." Best case scenario is, "well, I've got a new patient slot open in three months, do you want that?". No, fuckers, I want some assistance TODAY. And it's goddamned discrimination, frankly; there's a widespread perception that if you just pull yourself together, you can fix yourself. It aggravates the crap out of me.

Relatedly, I bought William Styron's Darkness Visible: a memoir of madness and read it before Las Vegas. It's basically a long essay, and I thought 15 bucks seems like a lot for not so many words but it's totally worth it. I've never read a better description of what it's like to be suicidally depressed. Styron, like me, was unipolar (he described it as "you go straight down", heh) and he does a brilliant job articulating how extremely painful depression is, and how it tricks you with the sine waves, so maybe you feel better in the mornings but by night time or two later later you're always in a terrible state again. Dave is reading it now. I can't recommend it enough.

Since I mentioned Las Vegas, I'll talk about it.

Poor Dave - the night I flew out, there was a blizzard. (My flight left before the blizzard arrived.) Also the much bitched about hot water pipe in the kitchen actually burst, which meant he came home on monday to a flooded kitchen. So pretty crappy for him on top of his other stuff, but the pipe is fixed now. Heh - Dave said to me, "did you notice the cold water tap is now turning the other way?" and then immediately corrected himself and said, "although since you can't tell your right from your left, I suppose you didn't notice." As a matter of fact, I felt like there was something a little confusing happening when I tried to get water but I couldn't pinpoint it. Now that he's pointed it out, though, I notice more.

And the company trip was pretty fun. Mostly I work with some smart, cool people and it was good to get to know them, since my particular job doesn't involve a lot of interaction with other people outside my team. We went on a terrific hike to Red Rocks - I can't recommend the guide enough, they took us on "rock scramble" so we went up a mountain using our hands and feet. Gorgeous views, really fun exercise.

That's one of my coworkers in the picture.

I'll download mine this weekend, hopefully (no really cool shots like that though) and post a link to flickr or a photoblog when they're ready.

The food was okay - portions were often crazily huge, which is not a great thing if the food is mediocre, and I thought everything was overpriced ($14 cocktails! $16 for a glass of champagne!), but we did have some good sushi at one of the Wynn restaurants one night.

And I did gamble! I put a dollar into a slot machine and pulled the handle and my dollar was gone, and then I found penny slots and put a dollar in and made 100 bets and lost every single one. So, I lost 101 bets in a row. I'm pretty happy that two bucks is all I donated to the city, but pretty much everyone in the company lost money.

I was just surprised, really, to have my dire expectations about the odds of winning in vegas come true. 101 bets in a row. Also, slot machines are BORING. And casinos are smoky. But! great people watching, if you like watching slot machine zombies and seeing people lose money very fast (I saw a man lose $2500 at craps in about 20 minutes.)

We also saw le Reve, which was very good. Kind of like I understand Cirque de Soliel, except with water. Amazing feats of acrobatics, gymnastics, dance and diving. but it's very hard to describe a show like that if you haven't seen one. At first I thought the show was really white and heteronormative except with a lot of homoerotic tension, but at the show progressed it was clear that the homoerotic tension was a deliberate element. My favorite part was the ringmaster (male) wearing a pair of fake breasts, which wasn't pointed out or made a big deal of, it was just kind of a nod to the dreamlike quality of the show and the fact they they're fucking with you a little. The whitebread criticism is true there was ONE black female dancer and ONE asian male dancer, and everyone else was white.

Also, very depressing, they have real lions in the MGM hotel (where we were staying). Supposedly they have a bunch of lions on a lion retirement farm somewhere and they swap them out, but this is what I noticed about the lions I saw:
1. the "habitat" was tiny and very loud with rushing water and lion-roaring sound effects and people yelling to get the lions' attention
2. the habitat also had a bunch of humans sitting around texting (employees of the MGM), so I'm thinking the lions were probably sedated
3. I have never seen lions with such clean fur and no fly bites or anything, it was like they had been to the groomers
4. the two lionesses were sitting well apart from each other. Prides in the wild sleep all over each other, so to see them isolating themselves seemed like another bad sign
5. the lioness I observed closely was panting and looked pretty stressed

I bet the life expectancy isn't very good. I had a pretty big lump in my throat watching the lions. I don't know what their life span is but I bet it ain't great. I know zoos do conservation work and some zoos are pretty great, but the MGM just isn't one of them. Nothing like watching a rhino stomp around a tiny muddy paddock or an insane panther lunge at plexiglas over and over and over again to make you wonder who, exactly, is regulating these zoos? (To clarify: the rhino and the panther weren't at the MGM, they were at a zoo in Scotland. The MGM just had the sad lionesses.)

Although some animals seem to do pretty well in captivity - giraffes roam a ton in the wild but seem pretty content on zoo lawns, and elephants and of course monkeys and apes are all pretty good candidates for zoos.

That's it from me, really. The wedding venue cancellation did turn out to be a mistake and it's all sorted now, so I'm happy about that. And I'm looking forward to relaxing a little this weekend, although as usual we're overscheduled with errands and chores and social stuff. At least there's a third day.

Friday hi-larity

So I missed the deadline to entertain y'all in EST on a Friday afternoon, but there are still a couple of hours left on PST. Or maybe some of you are still at work at 6, like me. (Stupid company trip to stupid Las Vegas interfering with my time to get my stupid performance self and upwards reviews done. Stupid performance review season. Stupid self for forgetting about this deadline.)

Anyway. I recommend watching Flight of the Conchords. The clip is only 3 minutes, so you aren't committed to 20 minutes for the punchline or anything.

Plus, they're just these brilliant kiwis doing satire, and it makes me miss New Zealand a little. Not enough to move back, but I miss my friends there a whole lot (not that they'd know it, given how crap I am at keeping in touch, but they're part of the constellations in my frontal lobe.)

And I'll update about the other stuff later, I just tired of writing depressing whiny rant after depressing whiny rant. In a revolting metaphorical nutshell: gross stuff comes out when a boil bursts, but then it hurts a lot less and the site can heal.

12 January 2008

I'm fancy like ketchup!

Y'all need to check out this comic called Cat and Girl. This one in particular is talking to me right now. Props to K for telling me about it. I'm so glad there are other people in this world who have super dark senses of humor and aren't afraid to show it.

Unfunny cat news:

Got Zoe the special diabetic catfood. She won't eat it. She's currently on my desk chair snoozing in the sun while I crouch over the laptop at the dining room table. I still don't really understand how she persuaded me to do that. I guess the mystery of Zoe is why I keep her at all, let alone feed her baby food and spend hundreds on vet care. (I will actually try mixing the new food with baby food to see if she'll eat more of it. Failing that, I'll have to mix it with water and syringe it directly into her mouth. I can't WAIT for that day.)

Inty is still barfing about once a day (which I guess is progress.) I'm changing their litter from Feline Pine to S'wheat Scoops in case the Feline Pine dust she inhales is what's making her barf. I love her too, even though there are two recent piles of puke under this very dining room table which I will clean as soon as I publish this post.

Unfunny wedding news:

My divorce is final. That's actually good news, because it means I can get remarried. Except I got home yesterday to a letter from the wedding venue informing me that they were grateful to know of my cancellation on the site and regretting to tell me that unfortunately the deposit couldn't be refunded. I DIDN'T CANCEL THE VENUE. Of course I got home at like 6 to this letter (and lots of barf, bonus), so besides leaving a disco-freak-out voicemail there's not much I can do. I'll be out of town most of next week for work, but Dave will handle this. I'm sure it's just a mixup, but what the fucking fuck?

Unfunny Dave news:

His back continues to be in spasm and he continues to be insane. He continues to not see a doctor for either of these conditions, despite currently being in school to become a medical professional. (Seriously, just get some vicodin or something, honey, because otherwise I'm going to have to put you out of your misery myself. I'm sure I'd go to jail but apart from the constant rape and unending boredom and the social stigma*, it seems like a nice way to get away from it all.)

Unfunny leaky faucet news: even turning the hot water off under the sink doesn't stop the drip.

Unfunny oil company news: Turns out I am still getting oil at a capped price, they just increased the price a whole bunch without letting me know. Fuckwads.

On the plus side: apparently I have a lot of compassionate friends, because y'all are very supportive with the comments and the emails and I do completely appreciate it.

* I'm sure I'd cope well with prison, don't you think? Seeing how well I'm coping with two cats and an oil bill.

08 January 2008

Rant Ahoy

It’s like this: I got the oil tank filled at the beginning of December. That cost about $600. (because oil prices are so high.) Dave informed me last night that the tank is now almost empty again.

I still haven’t figured out how to pay the December bill. Actually, that’s not quite true. You wanna know how I’m going to pay it? It’s going on a credit card. This makes me crazy because it’s a giant no-no to put cost of living stuff on credit cards. But where else can I find another $600? Although by the time I’ve paid for it, it’ll cost 600 bucks plus 12% interest for however long it takes me to pay off. Not to mention a late fee. And I'll get to perform this enjoyable task on my lunch hour, right after I post this entry.

So yes, it’s winter in New England and I should expect to have some heating bills. But the supposedly fixed price per gallon I signed up for when I opened an account with this heating company had me paying 2.29/gallon, when meant filling the tank cost about $400. They changed the prices (without any warning to me) to 2.79. I’m sure the higher prices reflects the fact that oil is now $100/barrel.

Potentially I could call the company and argue the prices/bill since it wasn’t the original terms of service. That assumes I’ve still GOT my first bill from two years ago, and also assumes the bill/original contract has no clause about prices being subject to change without warning.

Plus, did I mention that I work full time? In a cube farm where there is an unofficial rule about not making any non-work related phone calls, except on lunch. Where am I going to get the time and energy to research this? I’m not; I’m fucked, actually. Hey, don’t forget I’m planning a wedding during my lunch hours too.

Hey, guess what I did spend about $600 on recently though? Christmas presents for other people. Jesus. If I could turn back that clock…

Wanna know why else the oil tank ran out so fast? Apart from the fact that Dave’s got bursistis, which is affected badly by cold weather (which means that he hurts less if we keep the house at 65 rather than 60), the hot water in the kitchen faucet is leaking. It has been since we moved in, but the landlady’s idea of her responsibilities seems to begin and end with cashing the rent checks. The house is also on the market and we are the only tenants left, so we’re not getting any residual heat from other people keeping the house warm. Since the house is on the market, the landlady REALLY doesn’t give a shit about tenant complaints. And no, I don’t know how to fix a leaky faucet (leaking from the tap end.) So maybe we’ll just turn off the hot water in the kitchen at the spigot under the sink. That won’t be inconvenient at all. (but at least it would save a little money.)

Why not just move, right? Because the rent at our place IS cheap, and also because – had you noticed? – moving costs a bunch of money. We didn’t pay a security deposit for our current place, which means we’d have to come up with one to move, not to mention associated expenses of van rental etc. And we’ll need to hire movers for at least the bed, it’s a king. So that would be an outlay of a couple grand. Which, in case you hadn’t been paying attention, DO NOT HAVE.

Hey, guess what else? Zoe has diabetes. She needs special food, and she’ll need a blood curve every 4 months or so, and she’s going to need dental surgery when her blood sugar is stable. So all that will be, oh, I’m guessing in the region of $400-1000 over the next year. But! My company offers pet insurance (which I need to look into more, because does it cover preexisting conditions? The pet insurance only became available as of Jan 1 and Zoe was diagnosed in Dec. I guess I should research this during lunch.)

All of the vet stuff is a little bit down the road, since the vet has been out of the diabetes food for weeks and had it on backorder. (I need to call. During my lunch hour, I guess, which I am quickly using up by blogging.)

Other fun things: my company was acquired last year, and this month we are switching over to the parent company’s payroll system. The parent company pays a week in arrears. Fine, but the extra week is coming out of the January paychecks. For what it’s worth, my company did everything possible to ease the transition of the paycheck thing over, and I do get that January is

We both work full time, and Dave is going to school (not cheap, by the way.) We are not eligible for any kind of public assistance (which really I’d feel bad about taking. I am not the target for these social programs.) In a couple of years, when Dave is out of school and making more money as a nurse, this stuff will be easier.

But in the meantime, I’m getting squeezed in the poverty trap. I have a homeowner’s problem (leaky faucet) but no incentive to get a plumber to fix it (and also no tax break for home ownership.) If I owned, I’d consider taking out a loan for triple glazed windows or something else to make the house more energy efficient, but … I rent. I can’t pay my heating bill outright, so I’m going to put it on a credit card, which means I will pay interest on the bill.

You know what else is really super extra fun? I’ve gone crazy again. I need to see the doctor (another call to make on my lunch hour*) and talk about resuming meds, because the panic attacks, while always enjoyable**, are starting to interfere with normal life, and my anxiety is starting to paralyze me. Luckily, winter’s low light has made Dave crazy too, so not only are we both crazy, we’re BOTH CRAZY AT THE SAME TIME, which means that instead of being able to actually support or help each other through a bad spot, we’re trapped in our own private hells and usually just end up making it worse for each other. Fucking awesome.

Now, does someone want to remind me why I should keep bothering to put one foot in front of the other? Because right now, I’m having trouble remembering why I bother. And all the crap I’ve complained about in this post is the tip of the motherfucking iceberg, man – we’ve also got stalker problems and family feuds, none of which I’ll go into detail on for obvious reasons. Oh, and my migraines. Not better. That might be because THEY ARE TRIGGERED BY STRESS.

* I totally love calling the doctor’s office with everyone in a 20-cube radius listening in while I describe my symptoms of CRAZINESS. Also I'm 100% positive my coworkers want to know that level of detail about my mental health.

** who doesn’t like hyperventilating and sobbing for an hour? Come on, you know you do.

03 January 2008

Of cabbages and kings

well, kings or Presidents. This is the first election I've been in the country AND of age to vote since 1996, so I'm following the primaries with some interest.

Not obessive interest though - I live in fucking Massachusetts, so by the time the primaries arrive here the matter will be decided without my primary ballot.* Similarly, Massachusetts always votes Democratic, so even if Romney does win, he won't win his home state.

Not that it matters, since the shrinking population of Massachusetts means we're about to lose another seat in Congress. Yay. Could it be the shitty weather, shitty roads and high cost of living? Or maybe it's the fact that Mass is 49th in the nation (right ahead of Michigan) when it comes to job creation and economic recovery.** I guess someone has to be last in order for a first to exist, though.

But hey, what are blogs for if not to pontificate upon politics that you wouldn't bore anyone with at parties? I'm not really interested in the Republican primaries, although I hope someone really dire and unelectable like Guiliani will win, because that would almost ensure a Democratic sweep in the White House.

I'm not scared of Romney since his tenure in Mass just seemed to show that he'll go where the prevailing political winds take him. Which is an opinion I also hold about Clinton. Both Clintons, in fact. But lots and lots of politicians are basically mercenary. I bet it comes with the job. Office politics is not something I'm good at (though I like to think I get by okay) but it's a really useful skill.

I don't really think H. Clinton would win a Presidential election; I think she's been smeared so thoroughly - plus people still REALLY REALLY hate her from B. Clinton's White House tenure - although I think she'd do a fine job. I also think Obama is more electable based simply on being a dude. Look at the historical facts: black men got the vote before women, there was a black male Supreme Court justice before there was a (white) female one. Okay, those are only two facts and I bet there are a zillion more facts in support of my case and a zillion facts against. I don't have them because I'm not much of a politics wonk.

Anyway. I'll be interested to see how it all shakes out. I'd most like to see a Democrat in the White House, even a mercenary one, and after that I kind of don't care. I think an Obama/Edwards ticket would probably work well, as would an Obama/Biden ticket. I would lovelovelove to see an Obama/Clinton ticket, but I don't think that would be very electable - a black person AND a lady, uh oh, that's super double-plus ungood for conservatives. It'd probably stimulate them to emerge in droves to vote for even a maximum wingnut like Huckabee. Bleh.

*In fact, can one even vote in the primaries if one is not registered with a political affilition? I'm registered as an independent because I just don't want to deal with anyone else wanting my details and money. Does that make me ineligible to vote in a primary? I know, I know, I'm on the internet ... I could just look it up.

** I work ni high tech, one of Mass's few growth areas, so this economic stuff doesn't actually affect me, except that I can't afford to move to San Jose - which has, not incidentally, better weather, high tech jobs and swing state status, so my vote might actually count.