Tuesday, November 30, 2004

(Warning: this is a medical/quasi-surgery blog. It's also a major whine. If either turns you off, you've been warned.)

Why I Don't Like My Doctor Right Now

I had a brief doctor's appointment today. I knew it would be brief: a short wait outside, a blood pressure check, an order form for blood testing, and a $60 check at the end. No, I don't receive the $60 check, I have to give over.

However, there were things that went on during this appointment that just burned me up. And I'm still sitting here fuming, even a good 12 hours after the fact. Because I'm growing more and more convinced that my doctor is a quack.

He's done things in the past that have pissed me off. Not remembering things, like what medicine I'm taking. Things I've told him. His willingness to have me on drugs with an unwillingness help me afford them. (Smokin' Dr J seems to be of the impression that because my parents have a surplus of money, that I do too. I don't.)

After we'd discovered months ago that a weight loss of about 60 pounds didn't lower my cholesterol a damn bit, and in fact raised it, Dr J saw fit to put me back on cholesterol-lowering meds. I was also still at that point taking Liquid Zantac at $150 a bottle (I was on my sixth bottle). I simply flat-ass couldn't afford to do both. So I told him I'd go back on the drugs if he could get me some samples. Pravachol is what I took. It's what he prescribes, so I know he has samples companies have given him. He told me he'd see what he could do.

About a week later he gave some samples to my mother to give to me. It was Crestor. He told her to tell me it was the same thing as Pravachol. Crestor is one of these new "super duper cholesterol-lowering pills for people who are about to explode." I also knew that it hadn't been proven totally safe, and there was no way I was going to take it. And so I didn't. I started taking Lipitor, a cousin of Pravachol, instead, obtained under what may possibly be not the most legal of circumstances. I won't go into the details, but I backslid my way into some. You do what you have to do in this life, I guess.

(And when the Vioxx scandal hit last month or so and they came out with the list of drugs taken by regular Americans that could be killing them, well, what do think was on that list? Crestor. See, I'm dumb, and yet, I'm not so dumb.)

So, anyway, that puts me where I am today.

I went into the office, again, the not-as-nice one, with the painting of John Cusack, US Grant, and Drew Barrymore in it, and my old buddy Lisa took my blood pressure. It was 90 over 70. That's pretty low for me, but my bp's been pretty low lately anyway, so I was actually quite pleased. Then I waited for Dr J's arrival.

In he came, and of course, asked the question he always asks me. "What are you doing?" It's never "How are you doing," it's always "What are you doing." So I usually just answer, "Oh, nothing much."

He looked at my chart and noticed my blood pressure. "90 over 70? We'd better stop the Monopril." (Monopril is a blood pressure drug.) "Dr, I haven't taken Monopril since my surgery in April." "Oh."

Then I showed him the Crestor I was returning to him, unused. Oddly enough, he didn't want to argue about that one, which was odd, considering the whopper of an argument we'd had over the resuming of the cholesterol drugs in the first place. I told him what I was taking, how it was obtained, and why, and he gave me The Fisheye. The I Know Your Parents And They Have A Big House And Therefore You Should Have Money To Spare Too, By Osmossis, I Guess Fisheye. I really hate that particular fisheye.

He looked at my weight. Now, I know I want a lot out of this life, a lot I generally don't get, but I was kind of expecting a "Well done," or at least the nod of a head. Instead he said, "How tall are you?" "How tall am I really or how tall do I tell people I am?" This time I got the Listen, I'm Busy And In A Bad Mood And Am In No Humor To Deal With You Today Fisheye. "How tall are you?" I told him. He wrote it down. Which is good, I guess, since he keeps having trouble remembering things I tell him.

Geez. I mean, as of last night I've lost a total of 98 friggin' pounds. And he can't summon up a "Good job?"

And so I was still smarting a little bit from that when he stood up to listen to my heart. As he got up, he asked again, "What are you doing?" I wanted to say, "Oh, just sitting here on my ass waiting on you," but I took a wild guess and figured he meant exercise-wise, so I told him how I was working out. And that must have been wanted to hear, because he didn't pursue it further. He stood, all five feet of him (wonder how tall he tells people he is?) and looked down upon the top of my precious head. "Has your hair always been this thin?" he asked.

I explained to him that, no, it hasn't, and that yes, I've been losing my hair. Only slowly now, the worst of that is over, I'm just slow growing in new "replacement hair." But I told him that's a by-product of the surgery. He said I might have thyroid problems. Again I explained about the surgery and its hot #1 side effect, the one everybody has, the hair loss. "When you see your surgeon, have them test you for thyroid problems."


So. Dr J pulled out his bloodwork order and checked he wants my cholesterol and liver functions tested. And I'm OK with that. When I got back out to my car and looked at the sheet, written in the corner in his tiny scrawl it says, "Hypo(or Hyper,I can't read it)thoroidism - Hair Loss." Now I'm telling you right here, as God is my witness, if I go to the hospital tomorrow for the bloodletting and they say a thyroid test is on the menu, I'm coming back home. I don't know if it's paying for something I know I don't need, or if it's just because I've become a fucking mean person and I can't let go of this battle of wills I seem to have found myself in.

The thing is, I'm just bummed. I've always felt like Dr J cares about me. He's sat and held my hand when I was crying. He calmed me down when he had to remove a mole from my face surgically and I was scared. Hell, he's had his hands in my insides, removing my gallbladder. And I still feels like he cares about me. He just won't fucking listen to me! No matter what I want to say to him, he doesn't listen.

I used to be satisfied knowing I had a doctor who thought he was God - I figured, hey, that means he'll make sure he never loses a patient, right? Maybe my problem today is the God I like is the Kind God. Not the Listen, I'm Busy And In A Bad Mood And Am In No Humor To Deal With You Today God.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* George Clooney is laid up with a ruptured disk. Oh, nurse Lily, where are you??
* Day 3 of "Andrei Rublev." Still not to the second reel. Thinking of giving up.


Hello, acroites.

The acrotopic was "Why I Just Couldn't Finish Watching That Movie." Or something like that. Our letters were E T N O I D. Our entries:

*Excilibur: Totally nonsensical old idiotic drivel.
*E.T.: Not one indecent deflowering.
*Emma: Tired novel of idle dame.
*Eloped - the nads on Isador, desparate!
*Escaped terrible nude Osborne's icky daughter.
*Elephant turds not only indecent: DUMB!
*Embarrassing title, now opening -- it's Dorf!
*Ecch! Titanic. Nasty, odious, inane drivel.
*Ever trite, nationalistic, obvious: Independence Day
*Expected to nod off.....I did.
*Experienced tape nags, often in droves.
*Eating, then nauseous....offensive, innumerable deaths.

Well, I'm happy four of you decided to grace me with such good acros. And because of that, each of you is getting a big prize.

The "Knows Of What He Speaks - Really" prize goes to DeepFatFriar with his "Excilibur: Totally nonsensical old idiotic drivel." And believe me, DFF knows his medievel drivel, folks.

The "Wow, What A Reason To Abandon A Movie" prize goes to the dishy Michelle with her "Eloped - the nads on Isador, desparate!" Go, Michelle - go, Isador!

The "Just Made Me Laugh Right Out Loud" prize goes to LilyG with her "Embarrassing title, now opening -- it's Dorf!" I'd forgotten about Dorf. I'm still giggling.

And our "Grand Prize Because It's The Number One Reason I Personally Never Finish A Movie" goes to Mr Mike with his "Expected to nod off.....I did." It's try #3 for "Andrei Rublev," and I've nodded off each and every time.

Hail to the acroers!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Picture Monday/Acrochallenge!

Well, let's try this mother again.

Welcome to an All-Singing, All-Dancing, All-Nude Post-Holiday Edition of Picture Monday Slash Acromania!

A glorious four-day weekend. And yet it all went by so fast.

I had dinner at my sister's on Thanksgiving. It was very nice, I but I ate approximately nothing. That's OK, though, I didn't die or anything. I was just afraid of eating too much, so I tended to go in the opposite direction.

Anyway, the day did produce the first of our pictures, a little number called "The Boys Celebrate Thanksgiving 2004."

How do you like S's pilgrim's hat? Cute, isn't it.

Friday was a whirlwind of activity for me. Remember those things I've been aiming to do on every vacation I've been in the Poderosa? Well, I did them all. In one morning. I painted the little blue nubs on my window panes from where I took down the curtain rods when I first moved in. And I painted over the sink in the bathroom, where, when changing sinks a year or so ago, the plumber banged up the wall and you could see about 20 years/layers of old paint/wallpaper on the wall in a strip overtop the new sink. Did that make any sense at all? Well, it doesn't matter now, because it's all fixed.

I also did the grocery, cleaned house, and pulled the dead flowers out of my flowerpots on the porch. What a busy bee and good citizen I am!

Mr M came down Friday night and we had the rare occurrence of not being able to finish two movies. One was "Andrei Rublev," the other was "The Last Temptation of Christ." Mr M mistakenly forgot "Andrei" and left him at my house. I might give him another go before I take him back to B'burg, he got eight stars on imdb.com.

** OK, Time for a quick round of Acromania! **

This week's topic is "Why I Just Couldn't Make It Through That Movie." Why did you have to just get up and leave the theatre, or pull it right off the video machine and take it back? I'm not going through the rules, we all know them, three entries apiece, I'll judge at 9pm est tomorrow night, and there'll be laughter and tears. Over Tia Marias.


** OK, Back to Picture Monday **

I was woefully inept at capturing this weekend. Life gets boring, you know. So my next picture is going to be a picture I took a few years ago. I just like it for some reason.

As you may well know, I spent New Year's Eve 2000 with Stennie (and Eric) in Reeeeeeno. It was a blast, and I was going through some old pictures to try and post one here, and I found this one I took on the way out.

I took the train to Reeeeeeno, and on the way thought I'd be all cool and shit and take some black and white photos of the scenery. This is a building I liked in Denver, walkable from the train station.

And now time for the recipe du jour, which is a jour late. It's everybody's favorite after-Thanksgiving delight, the ol' Nut Roast!

Now, I'm going to be honest here. I just don't understand the Nut Roast. It's a meat loaf made with nuts. I mean, is that (sorry about the pun) nutty or what?! I mean, I'm looking at the recipe right here. It's basically a meat loaf recipe, heavy on the eggs, semi-heavy on the bread, but with nuts instead of meat. It actually is a nut loaf. I don't know, maybe after baking them for a half-hour or so the nuts get all soft and of a meaty consistency. Or not.

Anyway, asparagus, salad, baked potatoes, and butterscotch pudding are the sides for this one. Notice there are more sides. This is because this dish can't be healthy and nutritious.

Happy eating and happy acroing.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I really hate those commercials for Remax Real Estate. The ones that show their employees doing "other things," like playing horseshoes, running, or making pottery. They all fail hopelessly at their endeavours, presumably because they're so busy putting all their time and effort into real estate they don't know how to do anything else. I can only speak for myself, but I don't want my real estate agents, or anyone else, to work 24 hours a day at their job to the point where they know nothing of anything else. What boring clods.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Picture Sunday may have to be canceled. I know, now, come on, get off the roof there - jumping's not going to bring it any sooner. Blogger's just very screwed tonight and no photo uploading software is working.

I'll keep trying though, because I love you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

So Anyway...

Plucky Elizabeth picked up her belongings and left the mountainside castle of Dr Vorhees, scientist extraordinaire. He'd told her many times her services at the petri dish were no longer needed. She boarded a train heading west and read "Ulysses" until she reached the sleepy town of Terrischetta-on-Puln. It looked as good a place to disembark as any. Upon entering the station she purchased a copy of the Puln Times, where she saw, with more than a little alarm, her picture on the front page, walking out of a cafe arm-in-arm with curler and former social pariah Uzman von Stuggetter, a man she'd never met. She folded the paper under her arm and hailed a taxi which was driven by the smarmy Jorge, a man renowned for overcharging and associating with the scandalous underbelly of Terrischetta-on-Puln. She asked Jorge to drive her to the Puln Curling Hall, but fell strangely under his spell and ended up sharing a highball with him at the Palm d'Or, a bar and swimming complex owned by the Dowager Fernetta deBanque. Mr deBanque was killed at this same complex after diving into an unfilled pool while Fernetta looked on. Fernetta sat at Jorge and Elizabeth's table and lit a menthol cigarette. She called for Johann, expatriate bartender, to bring another round of drinks. Written on the napkin at the bottom of Elizabeth's drink was a map of West Erschtadt-upon-Puln and a meeting time. She suggested then that Jorge take her and her highball straight to West Erschtadt-upon-Puln. It was an area he knew well. Jorge dropped her off and immediately went to meet Fernetta deBanque at Ouives, a drag bar near the Palm d'Or. There they were to meet up with Cloque Dagger, drag queen and member of the Terrischetta-on-Puln town council. Meanwhile in Erschtadt-upon-Puln, Elizabeth walked, the Puln Times still under her arm, towards the center of town. There she met Johann, who offered her another highball and told her he had information she might find interesting. He lead her through the back of Meeno's Cafe, where the kitchen was less than sterile. Sitting at the bar, slumped over a Rob Roy, sat a wobbly Uzman von Stuggetter. Elizabeth gasped. Johann gasped. von Stuggetter looked up, gasped, and ordered another drink. Elizabeth took her Puln Times, highball, and Johann and joined von Stuggetter at the bar. She showed von Stuggetter the newspaper and he denied all responsibility. Johann looked worried, and tried to convince Elizabeth to go with him to Madame Chang's, a Chinese restaurant where normally all is revealed. She refused and stayed at the bar with von Stuggetter. Johann went alone to Madame Chang's where he sat in a waiting area wondering why there would be a sombrero on the wall. He heard a commotion and looked up to notice Fernetta deBanque and Cloque Dagger entering the restaurant. They breezed past Johann to their waiting table, where Cloque ordered Steak Kew and Fernetta refused food to drink flaming amarettos. Uzman von Stuggetter stumbled off his bar stool and offered a hand to Elizabeth, inviting her to share a duck with him at Madame Chang's. Though revolted by his demeanor, she accepted, and walked arm-in-arm with him out of Meeno's Cafe, where their picture was snapped by Otto Jarmanek, society photographer for the Puln Times. Elizabeth suddenly had a searing flash of deja-vu and fell to the ground....

But what of Dr Vorhees?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Yes. What of Dr Vorhees?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Picture Sunday

Well, it was a weekend, to be sure.

The first remark I have to make about it is, "Helloooo, Zantac." It seems I'm still getting sick when I eat anything out of the small realm of what I normally consume every day. Mr M and I went out to eat Saturday and blecch, right in the restaurant bathroom, then bllleeeecccccch, right back at his house. Yes, I did have my camera, but even I don't have enough bad taste to take a picture.

Then today during clarinet trios we made a pizza. I ate 2/3 of a piece and before you could say "Mama mia that's a spicy meatballa," it was hello bathroom. Lost that too.

I'm getting tired of throwing up. I went for a good two months without it and to it I say, "Banish thyself from my life, I'm tired of thee." I'm going to start tonight taking my liquid Zantac again, just to see if it helps. I can't live on a diet of salad and salami wrapped around a piece of cheese. Well, I can. I just don't want to.

First picture tonight? Well, my ring is back where it belongs, on my finger.

And happy to have it there.

Last night, after the eating and the throwing, and the premiere of Eddie Izzard's "The Definite Article," which was great and I recommend it to you all, I was left with nothing to do for a few minutes. And one of the three channels Mr M gets was showing that perennial favorite, "The Lawrence Welk Show."

First of all, Bobby and Someone (it wasn't Cissy) were dancing in gypsy garb. Then The Beautiful Norma Zimmer sang a hymn. In a dirndl. Not sure about that one. Then a guy played piano in pink and red ruffled sleeves. Then Myron Cohen played "Lady of Spain" on the accordion, dressed - as was the whole orchestra - in Irish green. And then this guy came on and sang "I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts." Dressed like this (what are those people called, I can never remember):

No, it's not idiots, there's another name for it. OK, so I watched way more of Lawrence Welk than I should have.

Anyway, clarinet trios. I'm sure I'm going to get kicked out of the trio. I suck, and I don't seem to be getting any better. And I keep getting lost and getting the wrong notes and yelling "Shit!" I don't think that'll go down very well in performance.

So anyway. The weekend was basically filled with all that: puking, Welk, and playing clarinet. Which, when you think about it, are all synonymous.

Hey, look at my flowers. Remember my pretty flower pots back on May 23? Ahh, my pretty flowers. Well, here's what they look like today:

I'm sure people drive by and think, "Hmm, so that's where the Addams Family moved." This weekend I'm pulling them out, I promise.

And finally, this week's piece de resistance.

Let that woman and her stupid-ass cheese sandwich that looks like the Virgin Mary go on Ebay for thousands of dollars. I have a miracle of my own.

This morning Mr M was kind enough to make pancakes for us, and I pulled a piece of pancake away with my fork - exactly in the shape of the state of Louisiana!

I mean, look at that. It's a vision. It almost makes me cry just to look at it. "Lawks a Mercy, this looks exactly like the state of Louisiana." *chomp* (My excitement is short-lived.)

And now to this week's recipe du jour. Well, it's a variation on Sherman's favorite dish. Every Wednesday when I go to band he and P have fish sticks. Well, this week's recipe is - Fish Sticks with Pineapple!

OK, those of you who've missed the really sickening recipes, take heart, this week's looking up. Here we have some fish sticks slathered with pineapple, juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce, laid upon their own little beach of rice. Actually, this picture makes me laugh out loud because it looks just like The Spawning of the Fish Sticks. Fish Sticks swimming upstream to mate.

The Card says have this with raw vegetables, rice, garden peas (as opposed to those awful street peas), and a lemon roll. But if you have these at all, you're a better person than I am.

Oh, who am I kidding. You are anyway.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Shout out to the nephew this weekend. Taytie is in GHS's competition play, and they won the regional, well, what would it be called? Play-off? Act-off? Anyway, they won. Now they go to the state competition. Taytie's main role (each kid has about 3 roles) is Purvis Wesley, the boy who invented rock and roll, where he gets to play guitar and sing "Hound Dog" on "The Ed Sullivan Show." But my favorite of his roles is a bit part where he's a kid who keeps saying, "We're going to Miami!"
* Please be advised that due to extra clarinet playing, the Director of Betland Security has changed the Betland Security Alert to "hinky." That's hinky. Don't get too close. You might get hugged, you might get bitten.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The New Folks

There's a New Morning Girl on the local news. She replaces, oddly enough, the Old Morning Girl on the local news, who had a bad haircut, a big toothy mouth, and a penchant for getting words wrong. She pronounced Dartmouth "Dart - mouth." But she was quite endearing, all toothy and smiley, and looking older than she probably is.

Anyway, she's been promoted, I guess promoted, I mean, she doesn't have to rise while it's still dark, to the 6 and 11 newses. And now we have the New Morning Girl. And a ray of sunshine she ain't. She has the personality of a damp piece of rhubarb. And she has bed-head. I mean, she has a poof on the side of her hair that doesn't make her look like she just got out of bed as much as it makes her look like she was just hit by a car.

I was pinning a couple of hopes on New Morning Girl. The first was that she'd loosen up a little bit and act like she was actually friends with Little Morning Weather Boy, like the Old Morning Girl did. But it's been probably 6 weeks now and she still acts like there's a board up her back.

The second is that she'd endear herself to me by mispronouncing some words like Old Morning Girl did.

The second day New Morning Girl was on the news, I almost got my wish. She announced that this day in history, however many years ago, "Jacqueline Kennedy married shipping - ." I sat there, still in bed, fists clenched in front of me, rooting for her. "Come on, mangle 'magnate!' I know you can do it! Come, on!" Seconds of silence passed. And she, in a stunning move ... completely omitted the word 'magnate!' So it went, "Jacqueline Kennedy married shipping - [uncomfortably long pause] - Aristotle Onassis."

It was so exciting. And yet, ultimately, unsatisfying.

And then things just went along as you'd think. To be honest, I didn't pay a great deal of attention to the New Girl, because of her damp rhubarbish personality. I'd make sure that anytime I had to be out of the room in my getting ready for work, I'd do it during her portion of the morning show.

But today. Today it happened. The New Morning Girl said, yes, I know it's hard to believe, but I swear it's true, "especially." Only she said it "ek-specially."

You know, when someone gets a job reading the news on television, there should be a long, three hour, 500-page test they have to take. Of general current events knowledge, and how to pronounce certain words. And anyone who says "ek-specially" should be thrown from the studio in such a manner that they land on their asses and bounce several hundred feet out into the parking lot while clouds of dust pop up, like a cartoon.

And yet, she gave me what I wanted. She mispronounced (or non-pronounced) things for me.

It's like my new neighbors, who aren't quite that new anymore.

You know, I had the perfect neighbor in Shirley. She was here when I moved in, an elderly lady on her own, and she was very sweet and friendly. From a distance. She mainly was like me, she liked to keep to herself. I knew she was there if I needed her, and vice versa, but we really saw and spoke to each other more in town than we did at our houses.

But then Shirley moved to another part of town (West Graham, believe it or not), and when I learned I was getting new neighbors I was worried sick. What would they be like? Would they be loud? Would they want to be my best friend and be at my house all the time? Would they have kids running rampant through the yards?

Why couldn't I just get someone who'd leave me alone like Shirley did??

And so the new folks moved in about four months ago. It's a family of a youngish mom and dad and one boy who looks to be 5 or 6. The day they moved their stuff into the house, I was out tending my now-deceased flowers. The mom got a box out of the moving van and turned to go inside. I caught her eye and smiled at her. She turned her head and went in the house. Well.

And it's pretty much been like that ever since. None of them speak, none of them wave. None of them really acknowledge that I exist. And other than the fact that they have way too many cars for the number of drivers in their family and sometimes late on Thursday nights they like to slam the doors of those cars, I really don't even know they're over there.

Which is exactly what I wanted, right??

And yet, I get slightly pissed off because their hands don't go up in a wave. And I get pissed off because New Morning Girl has bed-head and can't make casual conversation.

In other words, I'm pissed off because my new neighbors aren't my old neighbor and I'm pissed off because New Morning Girl isn't Old Morning Girl.

I'm never happy.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Spongebob Squarepants seems to be sitting atop our local Burger King. He looks much taller in person than I was expecting him to be.
* I just got finished watching "The Wizard of Oz" and crying. I saw Toto, I cried. I saw Dorothy missing Auntie Em and wanting to go home, I cried. I thought of how wonderful Judy Garland used to be, I cried. I thought of how none of those people are around anymore, I cried.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Periodical Pain

(That may be my worst title yet for a blog.)

OK, first of all:

1. I not only finally shredded all the bill remnants that were lying on the Almost Comfy Couch, but I also shredded all the bill remnants for the past months and months that'd been building up in my purple bill holder.

2. My purple bill holder is, in fact, not really purple. It's more of an aubergine.

Now. Last night I went to band practice, of course. I left right from work, didn't stop by the Pod on the way, and hauled ass (without speeding, of course, learned my lesson there) out of town so I could make a quick stop at Barnes and Noble on the way. I'd learned that a bunch of Eddie Izzard's stuff had officially been put into general release in the US, and I went on the offchance of finding the one show I don't have - and have been desperate for - "The Definite Article."

I got there in good time, headed right back to the music/movie section, and after a long search - where do you look for Eddie? - found his section without having to ask a staffperson. And there it was, "The Definite Article." Boy, was I excited. So excited, in fact, that as I was walking towards the counter, I saw a cd in the kids' section of The Animaniacs (poor Wakko - he's still laying under a box in my office). I thought, "Oooh, neat, I've always liked their little songs," and picked the cd up, only to see that one of the songs on it was ... "The Schnitzelbank!" Well, I immediately snatched it up and went to the counter. An impulse buy if ever there was.

Anyway, still heady over my purchases and with a few minutes to spare yet before getting to band, I decided to go peruse the magazine section. Now, I need to tell you that I really don't buy magazines anymore. I just don't buy them. At all. I have a subscription to everyone's favorite, Barbie Bazaar, and as a way to hook some more money out of me when I went to Clarinetfest this summer, I had to get a subscription to Clarinet magazine. Now there's a read that'll cure insomnia.

But I just don't buy magazines. At all. Did I mention that?

So, I found two magazines that really interested me. One was Q, a music mag, and one was Games, a magazine I used to subscribe to (and be addicted to), and honestly thought it had gone toe up - again, it's gone under about three times in its existence. But there it was, still with its "Best Games for Christmas Issue," the "pencilwise" section and everything.

So I, who have no time to read magazines or work crossword puzzles, picked up both magazines and pranced myself to the counter.

Well, I didn't actually prance. The person writing this is physically incapable of prancing.

I went to the counter, laid down my two magazines, and got out a $10 bill. The man behind the counter said, "That'll be $15.44."

I was sure he was wrong. But because I didn't look at the price of either, and I'm such a weenie, I didn't say anything. I just looked at my ten thoughtfully and said, like it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, "Hmmm, let me give you a twenty." I'll bet he saw through me and was thinking, "Yes, bimbo, if you want the magazines, you'd damn well better give me a twenty."

Of course, the first thing I did when I got out to the car was look at my receipt. And there it was. The Games was $5.95, and the Q was a whopping $8.75. It may have come from Britain, but damn, it didn't have to buy a first-class airline ticket.

See, that's what happens when you don't buy magazines. At all. (Did I mention I don't buy magazines at all?) They go sky-high on you. I thought magazines were about $3.75, $4.00. Well, boy is my face red.

Anyway, this afternoon we had a blissfully slow afternoon at TheCompanyIWorkFor. I mean, there's slow where you get all your work caught up, and there's slow where you don't talk to nary a soul all afternoon. It was one of those. So I walked up to The Bumble, got a large coffee, came back to the office and got out my Q. And read it cover to cover. I wasn't going to miss a word, at those prices.

I found out that Michael Stipe's a smartass, Pink Floyd is supposedly "the biggest band of all time," the British press really hates Robbie Williams, and that there are a hell of a lot of bands I've never heard of.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I had an interesting occurrence the other day. San, Kath, and myself were walking down the street coming back from lunch, and walked past the snooty-ass expensive interiors shop up from the office. They had, sitting on a table, the most hideous bowl I've ever seen. The bowl was fancy china, shaped like a bunch of bananas lined together to make a bowl. And there on the rim of the bowl were two glass monkeys. Sitting there having a good old time. I can't impart upon you enough how awful this was. I, who was about a step behind the other two, said quite aloud to them, "That is one ugly ass bowl in there." And happened to notice that I was walking right into a man standing outside waiting for the barber shop to open up. He wanted to laugh, but didn't. He was nice and pretended like he didn't hear, but he was smiling.

Hell Ahoy Update

The big news here at Betland is that the ring has been found.

Tuesday night, well, Wednesday morning, actually, in the wee hours, I was so tired I wanted to fall into bed but instead decided to pick up the 150 clothes hangers in the floor of my bedroom. When I did so that gave me a clearer picture of things. So I walked all around the bed, lifting up the bedskirt (now that sounds dirty), and what should appear at the foot of my bed, almost under it but not quite, but my ring.


However, I found out last night at band practice that my wonderful retro case has a not-so-wonderful retro smell about it. And now my clarinet smells faintly of mold. I guess that can all be aired out.

More later.

Oh. And as I'm writing this it's raining outside. I left both my front car windows cracked open about an inch last night. Hello, damp ass.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Hell Ahoy!

OK, so my life is hurtling straight towards hell in a shitbucket.

Now, don't start feeling sorry for me. As I was explaining to someone earlier, it's not out of control in a depressing way; in fact, I've been quite spry of spirit lately. It's more of a Broken Roller Coaster Ride kind of out of control. Well, this is Betland, and I guess the rides break down occasionally.

I thought this started with my ring. But it didn't really. It all started in earnest on Nov. 1, the beginning of my vacation. I had plans for vacation, oh, yes, big plans. I was gonna clean my house. I was gonna fix things that were wrong. I was gonna hang pictures on the wall and repaint the little marks where I removed the curtains when I moved into the place nigh on 3 years ago and had never painted.

Oddly enough, these were my exact plans last year when I took my vacation.

My house has been an absolute mess for about four weeks. It's a combination of Oktoberfest, laziness, being busy, and, well, life. Who has time to clean, anyway?

On November 1 I got paid and sat down with my big purple bill holder to pay bills. That is when I realized that due to a number of "pop-up" bills (ie, things that pop up unexpectedly), I was, well, to aptly describe it, fucking poor. I was, to aptly describe it, fucking poor without even having paid the speeding ticket I got going to Oktoberfest the next-to-last weekend, which added up to a fine of around $150. I had to send away to the Credit Union savings account for reinforcements for that one, which I paid last week, after registering it with the Post Office so I can show proof of mailing when it winds up at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Philadelphia.

So that started things off. I lived very frugally, canceled the "vacation week shopping trip" I'd planned, and ended up on my week off working out, doing laundry, sleeping, watching movies, and not much else, save for the cleaning out of the closets.

The cleaning out of the closets left me with a major windfall. Of clothes hangers. I think I can safely say that I may never have to buy hangers again for the rest of my life. There are approximately 150 hangers laying in a pile in the floor of my bedroom. This is in addition to the approximately 30 hangers at any given time on my Almost Comfy Couch, which is generally where I sit to fold, fluff, and hang.

See, there are two places in my house where clutter gathers. The kitchen table, which holds everything I lay down immediately when I get home from work, and the couch. I pretty much have not been able to see the tabletop of the table for the past four weeks. And after bill paying on Nov 1, my couch has been filled with "bill fallout" (the remnants of statements, etc, that I keep saying I'm going to shred but still haven't gotten round to).

OK. The ring.

Saturday after I got out of the shower I sat on the bed to slather lotion upon myself, because my skin is so dry I fear it's going to blow right off my body. So before squirting out the lotion, I made the most stunningly idiotic decision - I took my ring off and laid it there on the bed, in the folds of the sheets, thinking, actually thinking, "It's OK, I'll remember I left it here."

Sure, I remembered. 90 minutes later when I was on the road to B'burg. On the way home, I kept saying, "The first thing I do when I get home is get my ring." And of course, I didn't, and somewhere in a fitful night's sleep Sunday night I must have thrown it across the room, because it's neither in my bed nor anywhere visible in my bedroom. My ring is important to me. It's my favorite present I ever gave to myself, buying myself a diamond ring just because I damn wanted to. I keep telling myself it's going to turn up, but it's been 3 days now and no sign of it.

I had to go to the dentist Monday. He didn't flog me for not flossing, mainly because I took the dishy Michelle's advice and flossed the night before. However, my pained tooth (the one that's been bothering me for about a year now) is indeed fractured and has to have a crown. They set me up an appointment for the coronation. Well, two appointments, actually, it takes that many. It'll happen in January. Great, another two holidays with a pain in my tooth.

When the receptionist set me up for the coronation, she told me, "It costs $600, half of which we like at the first appointment."

Hee hee. "Half of which we like." I wanted to say, "How used are you to disappointment?"

Well, that gives me 2 months to come up with $300, and I think I can probably swing that. I put $100 into the Tooth Fund right away.

Oh, that's because I got paid Monday. I took my purple bill holder to work this morning where I was going to pay my middle of the month bills. Only 2 of them were in the holder. This is because - well, you got me on this one. I have no fucking idea at all why a person who puts her bills faithfully in the same place every single day for 15 years suddenly started strewing her bills all over her hovel.

I had no trouble with my insurance bills which were due. I mean, I work for them, I give them my money. I just paid those sitting at my desk. I knew the amount of my gas bill, just didn't know where to send it. And I had a rough idea of my spring water and cooler bill, but not really. So when I came home from work today I looked first thing. All the bills were in the middle of a stack of about 40 catalogs and magazines sitting on the clarinet-playing chair in the dennette. (No, the chair doesn't play the clarinet, I just sit in it when I play.)

I scooped them up then went into the kitchen, where I promptly knocked a stack of raincoat, hat, freshly washed tights, pair of gloves, Sherman's clarinet, two more catalogues, and a Rocky and Bullwinkle dvd off the kitchen table. I somehow was surprised this could happen and swore loudly to no one.

While I was waiting for 6:00 (working out is less crowded then), I finally went through all those bill remnants from the 1st. I haven't shredded them yet, but they are in a very nice and neat stack. On the couch, where else.

I also have to, before bed, dry and put away two more loads of clothes, watch the first episode of "The Amazing Race," find some time to practice my clarinet, pick out something to wear tomorrow, and fit in having dinner.

And even if I get all that done I'll also still have the bills to shred and a kitchen table that would make my mother cry. And do something about the 40 some odd magazines and catalogues on the clarinet-playing chair, that doesn't itself play the clarinet. And find a place for the 150 clothes hangers.

And the computer desk is so full of crap i don't even know where to begin straightening it.

And my ring is still at large.

Maybe I could borrow Stennie's under-bed-hiding new Kitty Sterling to find it for me.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Re Acro: I really did have intentions of doing Acro, even had a nice silly topic. But after working out yesterday I came home and fell asleep in the Comfy Chair till 12:40 this morning. So I'll leave it to you, my readers. Next week do you want an Acro with a Thanksgiving theme or a really dumb non-holiday theme? Let me know.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Picture Sunday

Well, how's that for a picture right off the bat?

Hello, end-of-weekenders, and welcome to a special post-birthday edition of Picture Sunday.

In case you don't understand that top picture, and you probably don't.... If you have MSN Messenger for chatting you might. There's a picture of a smiling pear you can use as your profile pic, if you wish. Now, I happen to love the smiling pear. I use it whenever possible. Mr M, however, hates the smiling pear. Well, hates isn't exactly the correct term. Actually, he's scared to death of it, due to the fact that one of her little eyes is larger than the other. And she likes him. I mean, like likes him. So seeing as how it was his birthday Saturday and I needed a little extra oomph to his presents, I decided to wrap up little Pearette and see if it would scare him. It did, but he did gird his loins and pose with her:

Now, my next two pictures come from a little gift I received this week.

Mr M found two absolutely bitchin' clarinet cases on E-bay recently. They were both retro, and cool, and in fantastic shape. Since he knew the seller and could get a deal on both of them together, he went for it and got them. Then he told me to take my pic of them and I could have it. Well, this was a real conundrum for me, because I loved them both so much for different reasons. So last night we played a rousing game of "Clarinet Case," whereby I'd put the horn in each case and walk around carrying them, and see which one got the best comment.

However, "Clarinet Case" went sadly awry when the second case didn't fit my clarinet. Or his. Apparently it has to do with the length of the joints and size of the bores of clarinets made in the late 60s/early 70s. But that was a little blessing in disguise, because I really did like the case I ended up with, and didn't have to go through the agony of choosing.

First of all, here's the case from the outside. Now, I have to tell you that this case is very short height-wise, which makes it resemble a really cool handbag. Also, I have to tell you that I, um, "liberated" the L'Olifant plate from my current case and put it on this one. Without being too confusing, the best part (and some would say the only good part) of my old case was the plate showing where the horn was first purchased, L'Olifant in Paris. (Yes, my horn is French. It's spiky and sometimes when I want to play it it says, "Well, I'm not gonna, I'm gonna go have a sandwich.") I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I don't care if L'Olifant is French for "K-Mart," that plate on my case was damn cool. So I moved it to the new one.

Now, here's the case from the inside, holding my horn. The blue fuzzy inside is marvelous compared to my old case, which had orange fuzzy inside.

We played trios today with BL (we're trying to get a real group of clarinet players together to do some gigs for people), and the new case and great horn didn't help me a damn bit - I sucked. But we were doing a bit of sightreading, and I now have my parts in hand so I can practice. Yes, guys - I will practice.

And now without further ado, well, do you guys remember that song a few years back by the Barenaked Ladies? Oh, "One Week," it was called. "Chickity China, the Chinese Chicken, you have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'." Well, if you have guests whose brains you want to stop tickin', here's the dish for you - Chinese Chicken!

I'm extremely embarrassed to admit this, but this dish doesn't look at all bad to me. Then again, looking at the picture and reading the ingredients are two different kettle of fishes. This one's heavy on sherry, pineapple (which I generally hate combined with any meat), soy sauce, and brown sugar. And I can understand the laying it on water chestnuts, bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots, but - green peppers? Got me there. Oh, and there's MSG to spare in there, too.

Anyway, we're supposed to get this with spinach salad, parsley rice, pineapple-orange kabobs (again with the pineapple! stop with the pineapple!), and fortune cookies. Really now. Did anyone actually get fortune cookies with a meal at home?

Happy coming week, guys.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Reason #198 why I'm a horrible person: When I see anyone who's handicapped, physically or mentally, I go all to pieces, get upset, and want to cry. I just can't help it. I keep telling myself these people are probably happier and more well-adjusted than I am, but I still let it cast a pall upon me. It happened today in Kroger. I once ruined an entire Christmas for myself after seeing a handicapped kid waiting on line to see Santa. I can't think about it too much, or this Christmas will be ruined as well.
* Reason #199 why I'm a horrible person: I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow, and I've not one single time flossed since my last visit six months ago. I know for a portion of that time I was on a liquid diet, but it's still shameful, and I should be flogged. And I probably will be when I get in the chair tomorrow.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Great Commercial

There's a great commercial on TV for a lawyer in town. He's offering to sue on behalf of anyone who's suffered from taking Vioxx. It says, and I quote:

"If, after taking Vioxx, you have suffered a heart attack, stroke, blood clots, or even death, please call our offices."

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I hurt and my feet are cold. I need to go to bed.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Save Us The Aisle Couch

I should have known it was going to be an interesting weekend movie-wise when we went to Blockbuster in B'burg and were bombarded with toxic gas.

I had only one movie in mind I wanted to see. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I'd already caught all the others I'd been wanting to see when I was on vacation last week. I knew in my heart that Mr M wouldn't enjoy such a movie. In some ways our movie tastes are quite similar, and in others, totally different. It's odd, but generally a good combination. Anyway, I didn't even suggest this movie because, although I was only suspecting I'd enjoy it, I knew he never would.

So we went along the "New Arrivals," which line the outer rim of the store. I picked out "Judgement at Nuremberg" right off the bat, seeing as how it had Nazis in it, and was an older movie, which I'm always keen to see. Mr M had seen it before but was kind enough to indulge me, so I said, "The next choice is yours," and we continued to walk along the aisles.

I thought hard and pinned my hopes on "Sunshine," and then on "Goodbye Lenin," and as many as three other movies he blithely passed by. Well, not blithely. That's not a word I associate much with Mr M.

When he finally, after picking up two Westerns then putting them back, asked for advice, I kind of suggested "Control Room" or "Supersize Me." Two documentaries, both of which I'd seen, but since I like documentaries and so does he, I felt safe with those. "Well, which one?" he asked. "Either, you pick," I replied.

He picked "Supersize Me."

It was then that we took one last look in the "Drama" section. And drama it was as we walked right into the middle of the toxic gas. No one was around, so it had either wafted in from another section ("Terror," perhaps?) or been deposited by someone who then got the hell outta Dodge. Quickly. Whatever was the case, it almost knocked me over, and then sent me into the giggles as well. I had Oktoberfest flashbacks and was sure there was at least one trumpet player around, hiding behind the "Comedy" section, proud of yet another joke upon the clarinets, but it was not to be. It was a phantom attack.

After that, we decided to hit the checkout line, and pronto.

We waited our way through a sea of teenaged girls talking on cell phones, and it was finally "our time." We got a 20ish girl who checked us out.

Now, I know maybe I expect too much of people. I expect people who are of college age to actually know something, and worse, I expect people who work in video stores to have a certain knowledge of, oh, I don't know, say, movies or such. But the girl, in checking us out, told us, "'Supersize Me' is due by Monday at noon, and 'Judgement at Nurman ... Numabgy ... Nurembagney... Nurmanbagner ... is due next Sunday."

This was a different girl from the one who told us a couple of months ago that "Zrobnan the Geek" was due back next Sunday.

And soon we were back in the safe confines of Chez M, and watching "Judgement at Nurembagney." And I was going on and on about the raw sexual attraction of Maximilian Schell, who Mr M kept saying looked just like his father. His father was a nice looking man, to be sure, for he looked rather like his son looks now, but I'm so sorry, Maximilian is on a different plane of handsome. And anyway, Mr M kept counter-gushing about Burt Lancaster, to whom I'm sure he wasn't sexually attracted, but feels a special kinship towards since Lancaster was a famous atheist.

(An Aside: I have seen Burt Lancaster naked. Years ago my sister and I bought a book that was nothing but famous men naked, and Burt Lancaster was one of them. My sister told me that when she and her family moved, she lost the book, but I'm sure this isn't true and she's just holding out on me.)

It was the next day that we watched "Supersize Me." Well, we watched a short bit of it, anyway. Mr M disliked this movie right off the bat and after about the first three value meals, it was enough for him.

Now, here's my thing about "Supersize Me." I enjoyed watching it, and in fact gave it four stars on The List. And the reason I enjoyed it was simply this. Had I been sitting in the doctor's office, or waiting on having my car serviced, and a man came up and sat beside me and said, "You know, I just finished a month of eating nothing but McDonald's food every meal every day," I'd just have to say, "Really?? Well, tell me about that!" (Well, I'd think that. If in actuality he came up and said that I'd put whatever book I was reading right over my face.)

So it interested me a great deal on the "human being as guinea pig" theory.

But there were things in it that bothered me.

The film's director, Mr Spurlock, who grew up right near me, by the way, came up with this whole idea of his from the Lawsuit the Two Hefty Girls filed against Mickey D's. In his papers the judge said if the THG could prove that eating McDonald's every meal, every day, was unhealthy, then they could go for it. The lawsuit, I mean.

And so, that's what Spulock decided to do. See if it made him unhealthy. And that's fine.


The first thing that bothered me in the movie is that Spurlock decided that since most of FA (Fat America) not only eat a lot of fast food, but also don't get enough exercise, that he wouldn't get as much exercise, either. He went so far as to, once he'd walked a certain amount of steps in a day, start taking cabs and driving everywhere.

Now to me, this is not only unfair to the experiment, but it's just plain dumb. His theory was "Is eating at McD's every meal every day bad for you?" Bad for "you" being the operative there. If he gets a lot of exercise and walks everywhere, then dammit, he should continue doing that. He's manipulating the data right off the bat in his experiment, and it put a taste in my mouth as bad as a cold McRib.

The next thing that bothered me is that, now, I know it's been a good while since I've eaten at McDonald's, but I don't think it's been that long. Spurlock's thing (so to speak) was to only get a supersized meal if asked. Now, he says in there how many times he was asked, but when he is - and I'm trying to think back, I swear I think sometimes even when he isn't - he has way too much food to have gotten a value meal, supersized or otherwised. He gets an Egg McMuffin value meal, and it consists of the McMuffin, the hash browns all mooshed together into a mitten, and a drink - and a sausage biscuit, and another drink. All his meals have two drinks with them. Extra burgers, extra fries, extra drinks. I don't know what kind of special menu he's ordering off of, but I swear I don't know anything about it, and in my day I could find the extra food items if they were hidden under the doormat.

And finally, and this may have bothered me the most, he wasn't natural in his eating. There's a scene fairly early into his experiment where he gets, I think, a Double Quarter Pounder value meal, supersized. It shows him starting the meal, five minutes into it, ten minutes, etc, etc. He talks about how he's starting to sweat, his arm hurts, he has gas (maybe that was him in the Blockbuster Saturday), his stomach gurgles. And yet he eats and eats until finally he vomits himself silly out the window of his vehicle. And they make a big scene of showing, as I just referred to it below, the offending yaak.

And that, my fine feathered, my feathered fine, my fine friends, just sucks.

People who eat at McDonald's may eat lots, and they may eat the wrong things, but they don't fuckin' stuff the food in until they vomit it back up. The experiment was to eat every meal at McDonald's for a month. It wasn't to stuff every morsel of every bite of every piece of food they put in front of you. And who knows, had he not been getting all those extra things with his meals, he might have been able to eat an entire meal without saying hello to it again five minutes later. Add to that the fact that he should be at least partly aware that as a non-fast food eater, he wasn't used to all that crap - he'd need to build up to it, wouldn't he? You don't start out on the second day cramming 57 pounds of food into your gullet.

Oh well. Anyway, these were things that bothered me, and I got to discuss them with Mr M while still enjoying the idea of the movie. However, they were too much for Mr M to bear, and ruined the movie for him, and so it got The Cane.

McDonald's is my least favorite of all fast food places because, to me, it smells. I absolutely hate the way McDonald's smells, it's unlike the smell of any other restaurant. That's why when the rumor went round in the 80s about them having worms in their burgers, even though I knew it wasn't true, I really wouldn't have been surprised had it actually been.

And yet still, anything they have to offer on their menu looked better than Spurlock's "last meal" (the last before the experiment started), cooked by his vegan chef girlfriend. A dirt quiche with some sort of roots and rice on the side.

I definitely wouldn't supersize that.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The condom box is still in the yard next door.
* I drank a giant cup of coffee today after lunch. It buzzed me and burned my tongue.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Press Conference

Ahem. Ahem.

We at Betland would like to thank you for coming out. We are well aware that things around here just wouldn't be the same without you.

Now, first of all, we'd like to start off with a little announcement that Acro has been canceled for this week. Your humble moderator got lazy of mind and body and for this you must suffer. We know this isn't fair, but life isn't fair, and if you don't believe us on that one just think back one week to the elections.

OK. As we said before, thank you for coming. We are here today to answer a laundry list of charges brought against us and our blog of yesterday, titled, if you will, "Picture Sunday."

It was suggested that we were not totally fair in our description of events vis-a-vis our Weekend At Mr M's. In fact, it was suggested that we, in telling how we heaved into Mr M's toilet, did in fact knowingly insert a picture of our very own toilet bowl into Betland last night.

We must admit to you that these charges are true.

However, there was no malice aforethought in our actions. In fact, if one will look at the paragraph preceeding the bowl, it states, and we quote, "I found myself looking into this." This is followed by a picture.

We must tell you, dear readers, we did not mean to intentionally deceive or mislead you. We were speaking in general terms, "I found myself looking into this" meaning, "I found myself looking into a toilet bowl." Of course you were to logically surmise that it would be Mr M's toilet bowl, whether the picture was of his toilet bowl or not.

Also, as we were heaving Saturday night, we did not realize this would be our blog on Sunday, and hence we did not take a picture of Mr M's toilet bowl.

However, in a neverending attempt to please and placate our readers, we at Betland promise that if this ever happens again, we shall indeed grab our camera and take a photo of Mr M's toilet bowl, plus the offending yaak in it just for authenticity's sake.

While we are coming clean with facts, we would also like to point out that the photo of the spaghetti and meatballs is not in fact Mr M's spaghetti and meatballs, but a photo we lifted off of Food TV Network's website. It is, if we may be so bold, Rachael Ray's version of spaghetti and meatballs. We were asked to impart this information upon you by Mr M himself, who was quite offended that we should pass off something of that perky hack Ray's as something of his.

However, we at Betland would like to state for the record that we personally are fond of Rachael Ray and watch her several times a week, though we can't recall making any of her dishes.

For the sake of clarity I suppose we should also point out that the picture of our clarinet was taken in the Poderosa, which was not where the horn was played over the weekend, and in fact, the horn is played very little at the Poderosa because we at Betland do not practice nearly as much as we should.

And it wouldn't hurt to mention that the crybaby we acted like is in fact a boy, whereas we here at Betland are a girl. We went on the principle that boys and girls throw the same manner of temper tantrum, and also that it's fucking hard to find a stock picture of a crying baby on the internet no matter what sex.

And finally, we would like to address the universal question, "Goodykoontz?"

To that, we answer, "Yes. Goodykoontz."

Back at the inception of Goodykoontz Drug Store, which would have been around the 1930s we suppose, the Goodykoontz family were indeed a prominent family in B'field, WV. A prominent family of druggists we are guessing, since they dispensed medicines in the way of owning a drug store.

We think the Goodykoontz family does not run the drug store anymore, but there is still a Goodykoontz in the local phone book, so some of the family do exist. If you'd like, and in an effort to keep our dear readers happy, we could call that number and speak to the Goodykoontz who answers the phone, ask him his heritage, and if he still has anything to do with drug store.

Again, we would like to apologize profusely, hunched over reverting our eyes and kneading our fingers together, for any distress or upset this has caused.

Thank you.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I've mentioned before how trashy people are around here, and how much I hate that their trashiness spills over into my yard. Most of the time I just pick the trash up and throw it away in my bin, like I did the empty potato chip bag this afternoon. However, sometimes I just cannot do this. This morning I noticed a mashed-up box on the side of my yard. I went to investigate and found that it was an empty box of LifeStyles Condoms. I just couldn't bring myself to pick this up. I took my toe and nudged it into the yard beside me. Blow, winds, blow to the south, please.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Picture Sunday
My Weekend - A Photo Essay

OK, guys, you wanted it (though you never came out and said it, but you know, I am a master mindreader), and now you've got it. No more Oktoberfest photos. Which left me in something of a quandry, I must say. It was back to life as normal for me. So I thought tonight I'd just tell you about my weekend with pictures.

It all started with a glorious Friday night with nowhere to go. No driving up the mountain, no getting drunk, no toasting and schunkeling. I celebrated, well, "celebrated," by staying home and spending the entire afternoon and a good portion of the evening organizing two of these:

I ended up with two brimming leaf and garden bags full of clothes I can't wear anymore. Normally packing away clothes I can't wear anymore is pretty much a downer, because said clothes are too small. The opposite was the case this time, so it was quite elating, if very tiring.

I think I've decided to just give the clothes to the local Mission. I flirted briefly (after it was suggested to me) with selling them on E-bay, but for the trouble it would be I just don't know if I'd make enough to go through the hassle. Anyway, to paraphrase Laura Petrie to Alan Brady, there must be some needy fat people out there. Hell, I'm a needy fat person, but I can't wear the clothes.

Next it was off to Mr M's on Saturday, where he made a lovely dish of this:

And it really was lovely, and made at my request. However, after about 1/2 meatball and three strands of spaghetti, I found myself looking into this:

And the heaving and losing ritual began. Remind me one day to tell you about having "The Foamies," which is the friendly term for the being sick a surgery patient goes through. I thought it was rather tame, but it grossed Mr M out, and he's not very grossable.

That all done and taken care of, I soothed myself with some of Mr M's famous coffee, and we watched this:

Oddly enough, I'd never seen it. It rekindled the flame of lust I have for Maximilian Schell. What a good-lookin' man. I've got to rent some more movies and have myself a Maximilian film fest. And a great movie, too. You know, I love anything where Nazis get theirs in the end (even though from the epilogue we realize the Nazis really didn't get theirs nearly enough).

Today, we did quite a bit of this:

Until I forgot yet again that it's only supposed to be for fun, and let it get the best of me yet again, and realized that I'll never be able, yet again, to play to the standards I set for myself.

And yet again, I spent the time afterwards acting like one of these:

On the way home, I tried to soothe myself with a couple of these:

But the only soothing would come from some serious thinking. About a couple of things I'm going to do in the future to try to be a little more constructive. At least I didn't reach for this, which I was seriously considering at one point during the drive home:

Good thing it was in the house and I was in the car.

Anyway, now I'm home, with clean closets and not much else, save a salad I got for dinner on the way in. Now it's laundry time and preparing to go back to work this week, which is going to be even harder since I had last week off. But before I sign off, of course, I had to look up the next in line for this:

Of course, the recipe du jour. Which isn't so much a recipe tonight as a melange. Now, I refuse to eat anything called a melange just on general principle, but this one is, well, melangier than your usual dish. Tuna, and cauliflower, and more snot on top (these recipes seem to be really hep on snot), and there, rising up like the burning balls of hate that they are, Brussels Sprouts! (To be honest, I like Brussels Sprouts, I just don't want them laying around in my melange.) And for some reason our host/hostess saw fit to serve the dish on the net from a fishing trawler. The Card says we should serve this with Grapefruit Salad and Low-Cal Whipped Raspberry Gelatin. Yep, serve this meal and you'll never be bothered by dinner guests again!

Happy Week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I really am sorry about the multitude of pictures here, I can imagine screaming comments from people saying my blog crashed their computers. I promise I'll never do it again.
* Really. I won't.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

US Mal

I've always been a sympathetic person, in my personal life and in my TheCompanyIWorkFor life as well.

Well, fairly sympathetic.

After a lot of years there at the desk of TheCompanyIWorkFor, I've heard just about all there is to hear in the way of sob stories, whines, and excuses. And I used to really feel for people. Now I pretty much pick and choose. I can tell a phony excuse a mile away, under most circumstances.

The one excuse we always hear the most around the office is "I didn't get it." Your policy lapsed and has been out 4 months and you didn't realize it? "I didn't get a bill." Well, you pay monthly, didn't you notice that for four months you had more money than you were supposed to that probably belonged somewhere? "Um, no. I didn't get a bill!"

They don't get their bills, they don't get their cancellation notices, they don't get their classification questionnaires, they don't get the postcards we send asking for information or telling them they're about to cancel. Come on, now. The US Mail can't be that bad.

Well, that's what I used to say. Now I'm starting to feel their pain.

In a week's time our office probably gets 7 -10 pieces of mail in our PO Box that aren't ours. We're PO Box 368. We get everyone's mail who lives in a local subdivision whose address happens to be RR 2, Box 368A (or B or C or D, depending on the house). We get people's mail who live on 368 AnyStreetInTown. We get lots of mail for a local golf pro who has nothing to do with 368, but his box number is close to ours. Those are mostly golf magazines, too, oddly enough.

A good while back, my sister's father-in-law was telling me of a nightmare situation he had. He mailed out an entire month's bills at the local Post Office. He started getting cancellation notices and ugly phone calls. Seems the entire stack of bills vanished into thin air once they hit the "Out of Town" mail slot.

So now when people say they didn't get this or they didn't get that, I tend to lean on the side of belief. I just apologize and say, I'm sorry ma'am or mister, but TheCompanyIWorkFor can prove they sent you the bill. And yes, ma'am or mister, I really do believe that you sent your check in 27 days ago and you only live a block away from us, and you probably could have and should have just walked it to us, but you were on the other side of the street where the Post Office was so you just dropped it in the "Local Delivery" slot. It's just those Mean Old Postal Workers messing with all of us again.

Back a summer or two ago I got my water cut off. It had to do with forgetting to pay my bill, and not understanding that I couldn't just pay 2 months of it next time. I think I blogged about it. It was one of those things that was funny, but at the same time, it wasn't really that funny. Let's just say it would have been funny had I found out what I'd done, taken them a check, and it was all over. But I also had to pay them a $60 "reconnection" fee. That took a lot of the belly laughs out of it.

Needless to say, nowadays I'm really itchy about my utilities.

This month I didn't receive my bill from the Sanitary Board. I waited, and waited, and finally when I paid my first-of-the-month bills, I called the bastards to see how much it was and where to send it. And they were closed, because it was Election Day. I think there's something very telling in that the public office that deals with shit would be closed on Election Day.

Finally I got hold of them, and they immediately started denying all responsibility. I tried to tell them I wasn't blaming them, the thing was just lost and I wanted to pay it. They gave me the amount and a PO Box. I asked if there was a place I could take it in person, as it was due in 2 days, and they said, and I quote, "Just mail it. It'll get here in time."

Now, there's a lot in this life I wouldn't second guess. But these people were pretty damn brave to guarantee a postal delivery on time. Even the Post Office won't do that! Have you ever 2- or 3-day mailed something, or, God Forbid, tried to overnight something through the US Postal Service? "Yes, I'd like to 3-Day Express mail this to Florida." Immediately you get, "Well, we can't guarantee it'll actually be there in three days."

Then why the fuck do you call it a 3-Day Express? Why don't you call it a 3- or so-Day Meander?

I mentioned briefly here last week about my house payment not getting to the bank, and having to pay that self-same bank to put a stop payment on my check, then give them another. I'd have never known this was happening had I not gone to the ATM machine (which we call "squeezing the owl," which is a good story and not in the least dirty, though it sounds vaguely so) and seen that I had way too much money in my account. I mean, I always have about $200 more dollars in my account than my checkbook shows, I like it that way for some reason, but this was showing waaaaaaay too much money in my account.

So I called up the bank, and lo and behold, no house payment received and I went through all the above.

Now, here's the thing. In my payment book, with every month's payment stub there's a pre-printed address label to the bank. It's self adhesive. I always use that little label, and I don't even trust mailing it on adhesive alone - I tape that baby right on the envelope just to be sure. So to me, there was no reason that bill shouldn't have reached its destination - from a PO Box in B'field, VA to a PO Box in B'field, WV, approximately five miles away.

But it didn't.

Tuesday, when I got my mail I noticed I had a letter from the bank. "Oh, shit," I thought. "What now?" I opened it up, standing there in the PO. It was my house payment. All sealed up in its little envelope with the label taped on. Wrapped around this was a letter to my bank saying this had been received in their offices and was not for them, so they were returning it.

The letter was from the Department of Veteran's Affairs. In Philadelphia.

I stood in the Post Office and marveled at my fate. I once was lost, but now am found. After paying $25 to stop payment on myself.

And I could have even escaped that - had the damn mail been two days quicker getting this back to me!

I walked to my car and dreamt of dogs biting postmen. And was happy.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I wasn't having a particularly good day yesterday. It was what I call a "half" day - half of everything I did was wrong. I dropped this, I spilled that, I brushed purple eyeshadow over my whole face, I forgot stuff, well, you get the picture. I mentioned to Mr M last night about how I've lately either been burning hot or freezing cold. He suggested I'm starting menopause. I imagined him boiled in hot oil. And was happy.
* Vacation, day four: worked out (I had to say that since I wore my "I'm blogging this" t-shirt to the gym), light laundry, and hopefully, some clarinetting later on, if I don't fall asleep. I was up till 5:00 this morning watching movies.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Big Red X

OK, I'm picking up the sock thrown down by Flipsycab, in her challenge to all of us to blog about our voting experiences today.

I used to be an afternoon voter. This was back when we voted at the now-razed Town Hall. I'd leave work sometime mid-afternoon, walk to the Town Hall, and stand in the aisle down the left side of the old auditorium. That was the "West Graham" side, the side I voted on. The line was usually 20 or so people long but moved quickly, giving everyone a chance to say a quick "hi" to their neighbors in front of and behind them.

Then they moved the voting to the local middle school, which is on the outskirts of town. Driving, not walking, so I became a late afternoon voter. Always went after work.

Today, voting was my first activity of the day. I got up, got showered, put on sweat clothes - honestly not realizing I was wearing red, white, and blue till I noticed it in the mirror - and headed out the door. I figured I'd zip by to vote first thing before going to work out.

However, when I pulled into the parking lot I realized that "zip by" and "to vote" were going to be contradictions in terms.

The parking lot was full to the brim, and there were two long lines spilling out of the front doors to the school. I popped out of my car and headed in, knowing that it's now no longer "West Graham" and "East Graham" lines, but simply "A - J" and "K - Z." So I got into "A - J" and stood.

I found myself playing my favorite "voting line" game. Who's gonna vote how? It's the old "can you really judge a book by it's cover" game. "Yeah, he's Bush, right down the line," or "Hmmm, they're Kerry people, I know." But when the curtains close, no one knows.

After about 10 minutes, I'd finally worked my way inside the school. Instead of the normal (2 per line) 4 voting booths set up, there were a whopping six! Five were spread out in the normal area, and there was one lone booth off by itself behind the registrars for my line. I was scared to death they were going to direct me to that booth. I was sure there was something sinister about that booth, all there by itself - that they were deciding who was voting for who as well, and they'd direct the voters they didn't like to that lone booth where their votes would be eaten, would not be registered, and would be lost forever.

One thing I noticed today was that no fewer than five people had their kids with them. Kids anywhere from the ages of 10 - 14. They stood in line with their folks, then went right into the booths with them to watch them vote. I thought this was great, and I'd never seen it before, ever. And it brought back a lot of memories of when I used to ask my folks if I could go vote with them (it seemed like a fascinating "grown-up" thing to do), and was always told no, that kids weren't allowed to go vote. I couldn't even go stand in the line with them. It's a wonder I didn't grow up with MVA Syndrome as an adult. (That would be Major Voter Apathy Syndrome.)

Finally, it was my time to hit the registrar's table. And here was my official Sign of the Times. I had to show a photo ID to vote. I know that's just about par for the course for everyone else, but in my little berg where everybody knows everybody else, it was just never done. Anyway, the person on my table was always the mother of Julie F, who I graduated high school with, and she'd say hi, we'd ask about each others' families, and it was on to vote. Not this year. No Julie F's mother, and even though I knew the registrars I had to show my driver's license. I was assigned a number - I was 538, I've no idea why, it apparently had nothing to do with order because someone who'd already been through the line was 540 - and in a stunning move, I was given a ticket. A little blue ticket, which I had to present to someone else to gain entrance into a voting booth.

And happily, I didn't have to go into the lone booth. The vote eater.

However, when I was trying to pull the lever to close the curtain in my booth, I caught my sample ballot on my hand and it gave me an extreme paper cut.

I pushed my levers for Democrats. Kerry for Pres and Boucher for Congress. Yeah, I know, voting is secret, but if you haven't discovered by now I'm a Democrat, you have problems. There were two amendment propositions on the table, one I voted yes, uncertainly, and one I voted no. My general theory on amendments is "when in doubt, vote no," but that first amendment was calling to me for a "yes."

And then it was over. I pulled the lever back, my vote was registered, and I turned to leave. No "I Voted" stickers this year. I was disappointed.

I walked back out into the hot November (record high temperatures here) day, sucking the blood off my hand. I saw Mr L (Bush, definitely), Mrs D (I'm guessing Kerry), and Mrs T, who I didn't even peg for a citizen. Shows how much I know.

As I'm writing this, it's a projected 80 for Bush, 77 for Kerry. I really don't want to watch all night, the projections and disappointments, and brief optimism, and eventual blood pressure elevation. So I've turned the TV off for now. I'll switch it back on from time to time though. It might be easier to watch if there was a convening in #squeeze.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Did yall know that somewhere in the annals of Virginia history, somewhere in the huge log books of elections past, that I have three votes for Governor of Virginia? This was the year ('92 or '93) it was between Mary Sue Terry and George Allen for Governor. Now, you know, I really hated Terry. When I hate someone so much I can't vote for them and they're a Democrat, that's pretty bad. And I knew I couldn't vote for Allen. So I'd decided I was writing myself in. And by the end of my two-day campaign, I'd gotten two other people to follow me on to defeat. It was fun - I had to ask the booth helpers how to write someone in. The only problem with it is that there's a woman in R'noke with my name. Back in the 80s she was on their town council and ran for mayor. 100 years from now someone's gonna read about my three votes and probably think the votes were for her.
* Remember I told you I saw a man riding a unicycle in B'burg recently? Today by the Subway here in town I saw parked outside not one, not two, but three unicycles! Is this a trend I don't know about?
* Vacation, day two: voting, working out, running some bills around town, then sleeping the entire afternoon away in the Comfy Chair.


The polls have closed, at least they have in Betland, and we have some entries in our Election Day Acrochallenge.

The topic was, of course, "Election Day." The letters, I E T N N. The entries:

*I'm exuberant -- this nonsense nears.
*"I'm elected!" -- The nutty neocon.
*It's election time -- neener neener!
*I elected Ted Neeley, Nazarene.
*Ideally, everyone tells Nader "no."
*Incumbent eloquently thanks Navy, nepotism.
*Idiotic Elis threaten national nausea.
*Inconclusive election till next November.
*Inveterate electoral thieves negate nominations.
*Ivan's Environmentalist. Try Nader? Never.
*Interesting. Election Taker Noticed Nude.
*I Eventually Take Nap, Nevertheless.
*Interminable expecting! Tell news now!
*I eat ten nails nervously.
*Independence. Equality. Tolerance. Necessities. Now.

OK, and the ballots have been counted.

Although his first acro was in more of a lofty intellectual vein, I'm giving Honorable Mention to DeepFat Friar's other acro, "Inconclusive election till next November." I liked it more, pedestrian that I am.

This week's runner-up, because it made me laugh, was Kellie's "Interesting. Election Taker Noticed Nude." All I could find myself thinking was, "But where did he keep his photo ID?"

And this week's winner, well, as I've said before, there are good acros and great acros, and then there are classics, and I do believe we have us an Election Day classic. This week's winner is Stennie, with her "I elected Ted Neely, Nazarene." If only he were running, we could all say that.

Thanks to all who played, and everybody's acros were great!

Monday, November 01, 2004


Hello, bloggers and blogees, and welcome to another if-it's-November-first-then-why-the-hell-is-it-79-friggin'-degrees-here round of Acromania!

Again, as with every week, I toyed with the idea of an acroless Monday. But after writing out my hernia-inducing stack of bills this afternoon, I figured I needed something to cheer me up. In other words, my emotional health and well-being is resting upon your clever minds and fingers.

And who is not going to be surprised one bit to find that this week's acrotopic is "Election Day." Do you hate Bush? Do you hate Kerry? Do you hate the running mates? Do you prefer Lea & Perrins over Heinz 57 any day of the week? Do you think it's all going to end up in the hands of lawyers? Or are you the person out there (there's one every four years) who's voting for Lyndon LaRouche? And if you are, what exactly is your problem?

Anyway, no matter what you have to say about the upcoming election tomorrow, you can say it here at Betland, home of Freedom of the Blog. As long as it matches the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. I'll be announcing the offical winners around 9pm est tomorrow night, though I'll be projecting the winners around noon tomorrow. Remember, everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that matches the letters and the topic.

And when the winners are announced, may there be a great healing in the land. Yeah, right.

This week's topic is "Election Day." The letters:


OK, now everyone begin doing your civic duty!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* You know how after the beautiful explosion of yellows and oranges and reds and maroons when the leaves start changing colors there becomes an ugly brownish gold tint to a lot of the leaves? That's now happening here. The mountain sides look like really bad Bob Ross paintings; it's quite depressing.
* Day one of my vacation. Spent getting my car serviced at the crack of dawn, working out, cleaning house, doing laundry, and paying bills. Paradise!