the_siobhan: (flying monkeys)
For those of you reading this on Dreamwidth, LJ had a Question of the Day yesterday about whether or not modern musicians are less talented than the musicians from "Back in the Day". (Hint as to where the rest of this post is going: I said No.)

I think when people look back they remember the good stuff they enjoyed and tend not to remember how much of the truly bad and boring was also out there. I remember when I was high-school age with a radio in my room, flipping from station to station whenever a song came on that I hated - and I spent a hell of a lot more time knob-fiddling than I did listening. Eventually somebody turned me on to an independent station in Brampton that I could just barely pick up with a wire coat hanger taped to the back of my radio. That was where I first heard the Stranglers. the B-52's, Stiff Little Fingers, The Jam - so many bands that became 80's icons.

That radio station still technically exists, but it was taken over long ago by one of those big media conglomerates and now it plays the same crap that you hear on every other corporate station in North America. I did some research about a dozen years ago and I think out that outside of Universities there were a total of four independent stations left in the US and Canada combined. I wouldn't be surprised if even the last of those have since been bought up or pushed out.

I had just started University when Much Music started up. (MTV was launched only a year or two earlier.) The cool thing about the early days is that music videos were still a pretty new thing and so the station programmers were scrambling to find content, especially Canadian content. If you were a nobody just-starting-out band that had a friend with a camera you could get your video on the air, and they used to play some seriously weird shit, especially in the wee hours. Things settled down a bit as it became obvious that music videos were where record labels should be spending their marketing dollars, but there was still plenty of room for some creative programming.

Now that's all gone too. The station that used to own Much was taken over by some big entertainment giant. They don't play much music programming at all any more, and what they do is all the same mainstream shlock.

And I think that's where people in my age group get the idea that there is no good music around any more. They look at the music programming that used to have so much much variety and they think that since that's all crap now, that must mean that that's the music that's out there. They forget how the same thing happened to FM radio just a few years earlier.

I remember at some point in the 00's deciding I was going to find a bunch of new music to listen to - and I actually found a lot. On MySpace. Today when I want to do the same thing I go hunting for podcasts. I don't even know if that's the best route to take, it just happens to be the one I know about. If corporations do eventually succeed in strangling the Internet, creative people will just go do their thing somewhere else. And eventually somebody will tip off the old lady to where that is, and I'll go tagging along behind them.

And if previous patterns hold true, I'll do it about once every ten years.
the_siobhan: (dinosaur)
I told Axel this story this morning and he couldn't stop laughing so that tells me I should post it here. You probably shouldn't read it if worms or beetles squick you out.

Background Info #1
The thing about having a beardie as a pet is that they like to eat meat. They like it a lot, and sometimes trying to get them to eat anything else is like having a toddler who hates vegetables. Many people feed them crickets, but I have enough experience with those to not want them in the house. There is always one that gets out and hides in your walls and chirps chirps chirps until you are losing your shit trying to find it. A field full of crickets is soothing and romantic. A single cricket is maddening.

So we feed him worms. He gets hornworms or silkworms if we've just been to the pet supply store but they don't seem to survive long in captivity so mealworms are the staple. We always have a big plastic pot of them in the house. We put a few in his food dish and he dives in head first, scattering them everywhere. Then he crunches up as many as he wants and leaves the rest for us to scoop up and throw back into the container.

So the thing is, every once in a while some will get away. And while mealworms won't go through metamorphosis when they're in the pot with all the other worms - something about their sisters eating them while they are in the chrysalis - they will as soon as they can get some privacy. So every once in a while we will see a big black beetle just sauntering through the house. No biggie, we scoop it up and throw it into Carlin's food bowl and he loves them. He considers them a special treat.

Background Info #2
I am not the tidiest of people a massive slob and sometimes when I am crawling into bed I just drop my clothes onto the floor. If I know I'm going to spend the next day getting filthy and sweaty in the basement or yard I will put my dirty clothes back on in the morning and then change into fresh clothes once I've finished up the work for the day and had a shower.

So y'all know where this is going, right?

I get up, I pull dirty clothes on because I'm going to be doing something that involves the basement and dust. I go downstairs to grab coffee. The phone rings, it's my mother. I'm talking to her and my leg itches or tickles or something, so I just absently scratch at it.

I figure out what's causing the itch when it bites me.

Cue me hopping around on one leg yelling "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" while trying to get my pants off while simultaneously trying to wedge the phone under my chin so I can use both hands. I have no idea why I didn't put down the phone - my only excuse is that I hadn't finished my coffee yet and "there is a beetle in my pants" had somehow short-circuited the rest of my thinking functions. Meanwhile my mother is hearing me shouting and crashing into things and she's yelling my name because she's convinced I'm having a stroke right there on the phone with her.

I finally get my pants down far enough to flip the beetle out. Then I spend the next five minutes sitting on the phone with my pants around my ankles because I am trying to convince my mother not to call 911 and no the fact that I can't stop laughing is not because I have suffered irreparable brain injury.

So the moral of the story kids, is always check your pants before you put them on in the morning. I do.
the_siobhan: (dinosaur)
In an attempt to lighten the mood after yesterday's core dump, I am going to tell you a story. (Some of you may have read this before, I swear I wrote it down once but I can't seem to find it any more. So here it is again.)

I was reminded of this because I was reading Captain Awkward the other day. I like Captain Awkward, she is often amusing and she frequently has very good advice. Anyway, this one letter writer was asking what can one do to "fix" a relationship that features random jealousy attacks over completely innocent situations. I've had a couple of relationships that were like that, and my personal take on it is, "You can't". One such relationship was the one with the Evil Ex.

(BTW, in spite of his name, Evil Ex was definitely not the worst relationship I've ever had. He is, however, the one I am most embarrassed to admit to.)

Anyway. The jealousy thing. )
the_siobhan: (cartoon)
[ profile] sabotabby gave me the prompt;
The most bizarre adventure you've had.

The problem is I've already written down most of my adventures. And I'm smarter these days - or at least more experienced - so nothing seriously weird has happened to me in a long time.

So I picked out the two that I think rate pretty high on the "bizarre" scale and I'm just going to link them here.

The Ballad of Hillard

Holiday in Cambodia

You all can tell me which one you think wins.

Comment here or at the original post if you want to add a suggestion of things to write about.
the_siobhan: (steps)
It looks like I'm going to be doing these out of order. An order that is primarily based on how long it will take me to come up with a coherant answer for each one.

[ profile] jackspryte gave me the prompt;
A vivid and/or evocative description of the most beautiful/amazing/awe inspiring place/space you've been to/in.

I decided on my answer to this one when I was looking at a friend's FB post about places they had visited in Canada and it mentioned this location.

A whole bunch of years ago Axel and I were invited to a friend's wedding in Maine. When we were making our plans around that we decided that we would extend our vacation after the event, drive North into New Brunswick and check out some of the east coast provinces, since neither of us had ever been there before. We did that and spent several days tooling around the coast taking pictures of covered bridges and boats at low tide, eating fresh seafood and being completely touristy.

There were a few places that were on our short-list of things to see while we were out there, and the Bay of Fundy was on that list. So we found a campsite near the park, set up our tent and pulled out a schedule that we had picked up at some rest stop along the way to figure out what time we should show up at the park in the morning. It said that the low tide was going to happen at 11am. Only it also mentioned that low-tide happens twice in a 24-hour period. It was currently around 10 pm.

It took some doing for Axel to convince me that it was a good idea for the two of us to go roaming around on a unfamiliar shore in the pitch black all by ourselves but somehow he talked me into it. The gates were locked so we had to leave our car on the side of the road that leads in and climb over a fence to get into the park. There is a walk along a wooded trail that is quite short to get to the stairs that go down the cliff, it seemed like miles in the dark. I was still half-convinced that we were going to end up on some Darwin Awards website and Axel kept taunting me by turning the flashlight off. I finally made him stop by saying the word "bears" at him. I was glad I did; we didn't see any bears but we did spot the world's biggest toad sitting in the middle of the path and I would have been very sad to have stepped on him.

If you have never been to the Bay of Fundy, it's an inlet between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and it happens to be the site of the highest tides in the world. We were in a provincial park on the New Brunswick side where they have built wooden staircases that take tourists down the 15-metre cliffs to walk around on the shore when the tide is out. So we climbed down the stairs and walked around what is essentially part of the ocean floor.

There was no moon at all that night so it was pitch black. There were also no clouds so we could see the rocks above us as black shapes against the backdrop of dense stars. The mud was sticky and sucked at my feet with every step and everything stank of brine. If I put my hand on the rocks I could feel spiky barnacles and slippery seaweed. We could hear the water lapping at the sand just a few yards away and the deeper ocean noises off in the distance. And of course the sound of our feet squelching through the mud.

It's hard to explain what it was like walking around down there. The inlet is wide enough that the sky above us seemed to stretch to the horizon. It was one of those nights where the air is so clear that if you focus on a cluster of stars for a few minutes your eyes suddenly realize that the dark patches between them are full of even more, even fainter stars. And etched against that background is the pure black shape of the flowerpot rocks. I felt incredibly tiny and ephemeral.

We walked around in the dark for about half an hour before we decided to head back. We ended up taking a slightly different path through the woods and promptly got lost[1] but Axel "Country Boy" Johnston managed to guide us back to the road and we found our car easily from there. We went back during the day of course and did some mucking about on the ocean floor in full daylight with the other tourists. We took a bunch of pictures and were able to see the parts of the inlet that you can't walk around on because they are nesting areas. It was gorgeous and it was fun and it didn't have a tenth of impact of walking around down there in the middle of the night.

[1]My sense of direction is hopeless if you take me out of an urban environment.

Comment here if you want to add a suggestion of things to write about.
the_siobhan: (shock and awe)
When I was about 7 or so - which would make my sister 5 at the time - my parents signed us both up to take ballet classes. The class had somewhere between six and 10 kids in it, all girls I'm pretty sure. I remember only that the teacher was a woman and that it took place in the basement of a church near where we lived. I don't remember who's idea it was that we take the classes, but I think I must have thought it was fun enough to keep going. My parents were pretty good about not forcing us to do activities when we didn't want to.

So yeah, long time ago, most of it lost in the fuzzy damp basement part of my memory. I know it must have been one of those "fun things for kids to do" classes rather than a professional organization geared towards churning out actual dancers where they make the kids do exercises until they cry. I do remember running around in a circle with the other girls, waving our arms up and down in time to the music à la Swan Lake. Silly stuff like that.

We'd been doing this for, I think, a little less than a year when one weekend my parents took us both shopping. They had us fitted for shiny pink leotards with sequins on them and matching pink ballet slippers. It was all very exciting. I was going to get to wear an outfit like a proper ballet dancer with a poofy skirt and everything. On the day that the outfits were packed into the car to go to class with us they took us to a hairdresser first, where our hair was pinned up into buns and they put real honest makeup on our faces like grown-ups wear.

No here's the key thing about this story. Our parents swear we knew what was going on. I promise you we had no frikkin' idea. My best guess is that permission slips went home and the teacher just assumed that our parents would read them to us. Meanwhile our parents assumed we had had been told in class. I think I might have had the vague idea that our folks were going to be sitting in on class that day to watch us, but Dee says she didn't even know that much.

So when they had us get dressed line up with the other little girls in a strange hallway instead of our usual church basement we had NO IDEA what came next. They trooped us out onto a stage and we dutifully took up our positions with the rest of the class. Then the curtain went up and we looked out into the audience and a million fucking people were sitting there staring back at us.

I froze.

Dee bolted off the stage like she was on fire.

My brain went into shock and I made it through the entire experience by numbly following what the other kids were doing, which meant Swan Lake featured one awkward ducking stumbling around the circle and waving her arms two beats after everybody else. When it was over I myself be directed around the crowds of kids and parents to be posed for the official photographer. Dee, on the other hand, flatly refused to go anywhere any adults asked her to, and did not hesitate to use tears to emphasise her position. Then we went home and took off the leotards and tiaras and that was the end of dance class for the rest of my entire life.

the_siobhan: (dinosaur)
When I got home from work last night [personal profile] the_axel told me he had put the bedroom screen into the window incorrectly the night before. "I was woken up by a loud crash in the middle of the night. Some animal, probably a squirrel, got in and tore up the bag of birdseed. I must have scared it away when I got up, and I cleaned up the mess this morning."

I laughed and didn't think anything else about it.

We were running around in Guild Wars together later that evening. (Geek dating.) I finally asked him, "What is that noise."

"What noise?"

"That thumping noise. Is it coming from next door? Or outside?"

"I don't hear any noise."

We play for a while longer.

"There! That noise!"

"I swear I don't hear anything."

We play for a while longer.

"There's that thumping again. It sounds like the noise Carlin makes when he falls off something."

"Well, let's go take a look."

So we go upstairs to check on Carlin and the first thing we see is the bag of birdseed spread out all over the floor. We walk up to the window and there is a raccoon peering through the screen at us from where he is sitting on the kitchen roof holding the plastic bag we were using to keep stale bread for the birds. The screen has a big tear in the corner.

I think this is hilarious of course. While I'm laughing Axel closes and locks the window. I turn around to go back downstairs and stop laughing abruptly. "Oh. Hello." Axel turns around as well and we are both facing a raccoon standing on the other side of the room and watching us with a very concerned expression on his face. When he sees us both looking at him he walks behind our bed and pokes just the very top of his head over the top so he keep an eye on us. All I can see of him is his mask and pointy ears.

We open the window, take the screen off and perch on top of the bed. As soon as he realizes there is a clear path in front of him he runs across the room and dives out the window so fast the only clear look I get at him is his fuzzy tail disappearing across the window sill.

So we'll need to get a new screen or fix this one. And keep the window closed until the locals forget that food is likely to be found on the other side of it.

And I should probably get a proper bird feeder.
the_siobhan: (shock and awe)
Axel and I bought the Once and Future Gin Palace on July 1 2003.

So here's the thing. When we first moved into the Gin Palace the plan was simply to add insulation, maybe replace some of the dodgy wiring and then drywall it up ourselves. We figured it would take a while with just doing bits and pieces on weekends but that gradually we would get it all done.

Boy were we kidding ourselves.

I have a couple of shots of the top floor from when we first moved in. (By the way, these have all been posted before so feel free to skip if you have been following along at home.)

cut for pics )

I don't have pics of the main floor from when we first bought it, but the living room and dining room had been walled off and turned into bedrooms. (The previouis owner was renting rooms.) So the first thing we did is have a party and hand our friends a bunch of sledgehammer and prybars.

Read more... )

So we ripped out everything on the top floor, but on the ground floor we elected to just take out the wall between the two rooms.

Read more... )

And that's the point when things came to a grinding halt.

We were trying to figure out what we could change in the top floor, so we called in a couple of contractors to get estimates on various things. And one guy pointed at one row of posts and told us it was a supporting wall. The next guy pointed at a different row of posts and told us that one was the supporting wall. And the third guy told us our houses didn't have a supporting wall at all upstairs, because it was too narrow to need one.

So I called the city and said what the hell. And they sent me a very nice building inspector who walked around our entire house and told me what was holding up bits of other bits and what was not. And then when he got to our basement he squinted at the back wall and said, "Why did you take out the support beam?"


So when we bought the house one of the things we knew about up front was that we would have to replace the 1970's model gas furnace. Seriously, the thing was bigger than our bathroom. In the time since the sledgehammer party we arranged to buy a new one which was much smaller and more efficient. So when all the extraneous duct work was removed, it revealed a hidden hole in our basement wall. And we thought, huh? Wonder why there's a hole in the wall and went on about our day.

Turns out it used to be filled by a big wodge of wood that held the house up.

Read more... )

Everything stopped. Because it turns out that putting a brand new support beam under a house is a titch expensive. Instead of following the original plan of gradually finishing the upstairs, everything else was put aside while we started saving up money/paying down debt for stage II.

Fortunately we had a bedroom and bathroom in the basement, so we treated to top floor as a big cold attic for the next several years.

house party )

Tomorrow: Stage II
the_siobhan: (dinosaur)
Meet the newest resident of the Once and Future Gin Place. He moved in a week ago and has been making himself at home ever since. This picture was taken of him basking in his favourite spot in the house and he will tell you when he thinks it's high time he got to sit there.

All my previous experience is with snakes and I honestly did not expect this guy to be as inquistive, social and engaged as he is. I am utterly charmed. We've spent the week getting to know each other and he seems to be perfectly happy sitting on my lap or climbing me like a tree.

Like snakes he's cold-blooded so I wasn't surprised that he eats a lot less than I would expect from a mammal of the same size. [personal profile] jo had also warned me that it would often take him a full week to getting around to eliminating the ah, processed remains of that food. What did surprise me was just how much more um, pungent it is than snake poop. And that apparently he could get it into his head to roll in it afterwards. At least I think that's what happened given how much of it he managed to get all over himself.

Obviously I figured I was going to need to clean him up. And since Axel is away this weekend that meant cleaning both him and his tank single-handed. No problem, I would bring everything upstairs that I needed to sterilize the tank, then give him a bath and I would be able to clean his house while he was drying in his favourite spot on the windowsill. So I fetched bleach, soap, gloves and a scrubbie and set them up in the upstairs shower. Then I opened the top of his cage and lifted him out.

He promptly scrambled up my arm and settled onto my shoulder.

Keep in mind that he is completely covered in poop.

I tried to get him down but I had made the mistake of wearing a woven shirt that had lots of places for him to tangle his claws into if he didn't want to be budged. Which he didn't. Finally I gave up and just walked down the two flights of stairs to the basement bathroom with him on my shoulder, steadying him in place with one hand on his back.

Once in the bathroom I leaned over slightly to turn on the water in the tub. Carlin immediately took that opportunity to scramble onto my back.

So I'm standing there, bent over, with a poop-covered beardie perched on my back. I can sorta reach him but there is no way I have enough hands to pick him up while simultaneously untangling his claws from my shirt. Finally I figured out that I could solve the whole situation by pulling my shift off over my head - with him in it. Once I had him in front of me I was able to disentangle him from my clothes and put him into the warm water.

We hung out there for about 15 minutes while I gently cleaned him from nose to tail. He didn't seem to mind the water at all. Finally when he was fit for public appearances once again and since the water was starting to cool off I picked him up to take him upstairs to his basking spot.

And that's when he crapped all over me.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
The first time I ever had one of those Meyers-Brigs scores done was back when I worked at the pharm. They were using it as some kind of team-building exercise, and it was decided that based on my answers I was an INTP. Little bit "P". Really "T". Little bit "N". Really really really holy-crap-lookit-that-score "I". The "I" of course, stood for Introvert.

And nobody I worked with would believe it.

I got told I couldn't possibly be an introvert because I had purple hair and a nose ring. Because I had a lot of friends and regularly went to clubs and parties. One woman even told me I was too smart to be an introvert.

My absolute favourite reaction was from the director - herself a strong extrovert - who proposed that the test be administered during the interview process so that potential introverts could be weeded out before they got hired. To this day I have no idea whether or not she was joking.

All that was a long time ago. Now it's the twenty-first century and introverts are kind of like gay people - most folks who have a net connection have at least heard of us. Even if they don't know any themselves they have friends who have friends who are "innies" and the general consensus is that we should mostly be treated like normal people.

Because there are websites on Absolutely Everything there are even sites that talk about introverts. What they're like and how to take care of them. I've read a few. And eventually even the smartest ones, the ones written by introverts themselves say something stupid. Something like: "An introvert will prefer a quiet night with a few close friends than a loud party." Or "will prefer an evening of television at home over a crowded concert."

And I'm here to say in response to these pearls of wisdom, "Malarkey." I'm about as introverted as a human can get without actually turning into a hermit crab. And I love going to loud concerts and crowded parties - when I feel like going out. The only difference between me and some E-to-the-extreme extrovert like say, [ profile] the_axel is that for him being around people is energizing. For me it's exhausting.

So while I can honestly say that I love being around people, my love bears certain similarities to how I love say, hiking. Or working out. Or really athletic sex. Because no matter how much I love it and no matter how much fun it is, eventually I'm going to get tired and I am going to have to stop. (The other similarity is that no matter how much I know I'm going to enjoy it once I get there, I still often have trouble getting off my ass to leave the damn house. Or that might be one of those other little-known personality traits like "lazy" or "addicted to Warhammer".) And it's also the case that when other things are going on, like depression (hello) or stress, my people-energy is the first expendable resource that my brain will jettison.

[ profile] bcholmes is an introvert like me. [ profile] the_axel, on the other hand, is a major extrovert. People recharge his batteries. He's never happier than when he is presiding over one of his pig roasts like an indulgent King in a Hawaiian shirt. When I would go through one of my never-leave-the-house phases he used to try to stay in with me and be The Good Boyfriend. Over time I could watch him visibly wilting from lack of stimulation. Eventually he couldn't take it any more and would drag me out to some social event - and then I wouldn't be able to get it together to go to work on Monday.

It took us a while but we finally managed to figure out that yes; he should go out dancing with our friends every week without me. He would get his much-needed social time and I would get THE ENTIRE HOUSE TO MYSELF omg bliss! for a night. Both of us are happy and it means when I have the spoons available to do social events I end up enjoying them a whole lot more.

But what's really funny? He's the shy one of the two of us. The one who hesitates when it comes to walking into an environment where he doesn't know anybody. I can think of multiple occasions where we've sat down at a bar together and I've ended up dragging us into a conversation with the strangers sitting next to us and afterward he's said, "How do you do that?"

So, me and Axel are: shy/extrovert + outgoing/introvert. Put us together and you get a whole person.

(I would classify [ profile] bcholmes as a shy/introvert. Now we just need an outgoing/extrovert to complete the set. I'll just have to send them out with [ profile] the_axel on a regular basis so they don't drive me nuts.)
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
Somebody on alt.gothic found the old a.g quotes page. Keep in mind this was ten years ago - long before Deja News, never mind google. And it's still up. That's centuries in internet years.

What made me laugh is that somebody submitted a post I made back when I still used to work in the virology lab.

"I've been working on a new project at work for the last couple of months. The people I'm working with are great, but the project... well, lets just say we don't have very high hopes for it. Too bad really.

In the midst of getting some rather discouraging results from our last set of experiments, I got to order some new lab coats for the four of us. They arrived last week.

The name tags say; "War" "Famine" "Pestilence" and "Death".

Just thought I'd share. ;->"

I had completely forgotten about doing that. Somehow I don't think I could get away with that kind of thing at that bank.

Besides, there are five people in PD Admin.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
The Epic Purge (A phrase that, now coined, immediately reminds me of one of [ profile] elixxir's euphemisms for one of her bowel movements) continues to eat the house. I have stacks of things sitting around in massive Don'tTouchThatI'veJustSortedIt piles that must be skirted carefully so as not to fall over and eat the sofa. I keep telling myself the piles are getting vaguely smaller. I've been posting dozens of items to a couple of the local freecycle groups, craigslisting more stuff and Goodwilling the rest.

One of the things that has been driving me mildly around the bend that so few of the Freecycle people show up to claim the items they claim they want. It's free, get off your asses people.

I admit that I tend to be a lot more understanding about delays when the item is something large, bulky or hard to transport - like the desk I just gave away. It was still sitting on the porch when I came home from work the day it was supposed to be picked up. I got an email that night from the woman who wanted it saying she had come by with her boyfriend to get it but that it wouldn't fit into the car he was driving. His SUV would be out of the shop in a few days and she would come back.

So they were in the neighbourhood today and she rang my doorbell. I helped her haul it down the stairs while the boyfriend - who apparently suffers from a herniated disc - waited in the car. As we were wrestling it into the rear hatch he got out of the driver's seat.

The Evil Ex and I looked at each other and said, "Oh.



Once we had the desk in the car we made the barest minimum of polite chit-chat before I bolted back into the house. Which is a shame because she seemed quite nice, but I wasn't sure I could maintain the facade of not calling him an AssNugget in front of her for more than a few seconds. As I was leaving he called out that he would email me. I agreed - mostly because then I could call him an AssNugget not in front of her and make it clear that No I Don't Want To Hang Out With You, No We Are Not Friends. Quite frankly I would prefer to do it in person, but I have social rules about bitching people out in public.

Mind you, she could probably tell. Poker face is not one of my super powers.

(For people who have only recently entered the ongoing saga of my ridiculous life - this post is about the Evil Ex.)
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
The Thursday before the pigroast Axel picked up the pig (with Charlie's assistance) and prepped it for the grill; rubbing it with salt, soaking it liberally in the marinade and packing it away in ice. I didn't help him because I work afternoons so I wasn't home when he brought it home from the butcher.

On the Friday morning I did the last bit of clearing things out of the way so the house would have space for all our guests. I was in a hurry to get ready for work and I knew I had an enchilada sitting in the fridge in a tupperware container, so I figured I could just grab that and bring it to work with me for my dinner. I opened the fridge door, spotted the container in question, threw it into my knapsack and hopped on my bike.

Axel and I almost always eat dinner together when I have my break. Then I go back to work and he heads home. On this particular day we went down to the cafeteria the way we always do, and he popped his lunch into one of the microwaves. I took mine out of the bag with the intent to follow suit. I opened the microwave door, took the lid off the container and then just happened to look down.

Wait a minute.

That's not an enchilada.


That's a tongue.


I think I ended up having pizza for dinner.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I got spam today entitled "The Rodent Not Taken". Only a few of you are familiar with the ongoing saga that is trying to get a reluctant ball python to eat, so the rest of you won't get the joke. But trust me, it was hilarious.


I am highly amused to notice that posters advertising an upcoming night of bands doing Handsome Ned covers is being billed as, "The Night Of The Living Ned."


I tried riding Axel's bike the other day. Normally he picks up our green food box because the box will fit on the back of his bike and not on mine. (My seat is bigger.) But since he's in Vancouver, I figured I'd just borrow his bike to do it. I wrestle the empty box onto the bike and strap everything down. I only once manage to clip a knuckle with a flying bungee cord, which is actually pretty good for me.

First off, I can't reach the pedals.

It's really unusual for a guy to have longer legs than I do - even men who are taller than me - but seriously, if I sat on the seat I couldn't reach the pedals. In order to propel the damn thing I had to stand on the pedals.

I also couldn't reach the handlebars. He has those racing bars that kind of look like a ram's horns, and I have short little arms and even stretched fulling horizontal I was barely able to reach the cross-bar. Forget about the brakes.

So I'm peddling and wobbling down the street and I soon as I get some momentum going I hoist myself onto the seat and just hang on and coast. And prey I don't have to stop suddenly, because I'm gonna lose a piercing or two if I do. Fortunately it's downhill all the way so the coasting is easy. When I have to stop for a red light at the intersection I just run into a pole.

I finally get there in one piece. Stopping involves tipping over on one side until I can reach the ground with a foot and doing a couple of awkward bunny hops. Wrestling the empty box off the bike is a little more challenging since there are no handy walls or trees to lean the thing against and he doesn't have a kick-stand.

But getting it off is nothing compared to getting the full one on. It's heavy, you see, and so the bike keeps trying to roll away from it. So I have to keep one hand on the bike to keep it stable, one hand on the box to keep it stable, and at two hands to fasten the bungee cords taut enough to keep the box on the back of the bike. I try to wedge the wheel between my legs and kind of drape myself over the box. I scrabble around with the bungee cords but I can't seem to find the spots to put the hooks in - and when I try and bend over to look at what I'm doing, bike tips left and box tips right. The bungee cord lets go of the falling bike and snaps back to smack me in the mouth.

I pick everything up and start over. This time I'm just going to have to feel my way around. I find what I think is a good spot to hook the first bungee cord and try to force the hook into it. It seems to catch for a second, but lets go as soon as I take my hand of it and snaps back to smack me in the mouth. Bike goes left. Box goes right.

This time I'm determined. I carefully hook one side of each of the bungee cords in a strategic spot. I stand on the opposite side of the bike and balance both bike and box against my thighs. I gently drape the cords over the top of the box. Gradually I pull on the cord with one hand and push against the bike with the other. The bike and I lean away from each other, forming a gradually-opening V, our balance maintained by a perfect tension as I pull the cord towards me.

Then the box starts to slide, I grab it, the bungee cord lets go and smacks me in the mouth. Bike goes left. Box goes right.

I pick myself up, pick up the box, sling the cords across my shoulder, pick up the bike, and drag everything down the street until I get to a fence. Then I lean the bike against the fence, pin the box to the bike between my body and the fence and strap everything on. I take the bungee cords off again to release the bike from where I have nadvertently strapped it to the fence and then re-strap the box to the bike.

I get on the bike. The bike is now top-heavy and even harder to balance. I wobble slowly forward, balancing on the pedals and stretching as far as I can to reach the handlebars. About two feet later I hit a speed bump on the road and fall over with a crash.

I drag everything back to the fence and refasten the box.

Then I walk the bike home.

And made a great big salad with those veggies.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I slept on the couch last night. It was kind of weird because the windows are all open and the plastic we have hung all over the place moves in the breeze. I kept waking up because there were unfamiliar sounds going on the next room. At one point I'm sure I heard something scurrying upstairs.

I was already in a weird mood. When I walked home last night - about 2 AM - there was a couple having a very loud and obvious fight. They were in a car, and I could hear the guy yelling at the girl. They would zoom off, stop a couple of blocks later, and then the yelling would continue. They did this every half block or so. Eventually I caught up with the girl walking along the street and sobbing.

She was from a completely different part of the city and had no idea where she was. I got her oriented and offered to walk with her to a place where she could catch a cab or a bus. Offered to buy her a coffee if she wanted to sit for a bit. She kept saying no. At one point the boyfriend came back, and when he saw me he basically told me I could take care of her and he fucked off for good. She burst into tears all over again.

Eventually I had to let her go. I didn't want to. But she was a grown woman who didn't want my help.

I still feel kind of shitty about the whole thing.


Mar. 22nd, 2007 11:11 pm
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I got my superpowers today only if mucous production could be classified as a superpower.

It happens that in a conversation on somebody else's LJ, I made mention of the fact I used to work with live HIV.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned that here. Man, but I loved that job.

Every day we would change into our lab wear; autoclavable smocks and underwear and the slippers we wore as we padded down the hallway to the entrance. Then the first airlock where we bundled into our labwear. Then the second airlock, where we put on the boots and headgear and the second layer of gloves, and taped all the layers to each other in so that no air could leak through the gaps in the clothing. A battery pack pumped clean filtered air into our helmets. We would make a brief side trip to an internal decon chamber where yesturday's battery packs and shoes would be waiting in a plastic bag so we could dump them into the airlock for the next day.

Then into the lab where we would commit Acts Of Science. On the way out we likewise disrobed in stages. Battery packs and shoes were sprayed down, bagged, and left in the decon chamber. (Accessed through a different door and an additional airlock.) Outer layers were dumped into an autoclave bag. In a secondary chamber we would dump our smocks and knickers - also into an autoclave bag - and step into a shower. Our street clothes waited outside. The first person out would go and get all the slippers and anything else that had been left in the "enter" side and put them in the change room. The last person would load the autoclave and sterlize all the clothes we had just taken off.

There were only three of us working there, all women. We became intimately aquainted with each others' biological needs. There were many occasionas where somebody would just say, "I can't wait any more, I have got to get to a bathroom", and the other two would pick up the slack while the one in need bolted for the showers. There was one day when my battery just completely died and I was the one running down the hallway and trying to get everything sprayed down quickly so I could finally take my helmet off and get some new air.

All the windows were bomb-proof glass. The fire department were under strict instructions that in case of fire they were to get all the humans out and let the building burn to the ground in sterilizing flame. Periodically reporters would come into the office and we would see them out in the hallway through the double layers of laboratory glass, taking pictures of our helmeted shapeless forms while we worked.

The company bought us each $100,000 life insurance policies. I thought the questionaires were hilarious. Have you ever done intravenous drugs? Have you ever been to Haiti? No but I work with LIVE AIDS every day? Do you have a questionaire for that? No? Ok, then. It was the only time in my life I've ever had to do a pee test.

The project was cancelled after a couple of years and all the security precautions were gradually switched off. Somebody snuck into the change rooms and stole all the autoclaveable underwear. The personel all were assigned to different projects and the equipment got scavenged as well.

One of the fermenters exploded one day when I was working with it. Nutrient broth rained from the ceiling for a half-hour. The containment tank that trapped and sterilized all the run-off from the autoclave got plugged up and a couple of the pipes exploded from the back-pressure, filling an entire room with scalding water. I was there for that too.

And over time the the company turned into the Hell Hole and eventually I quit so I could stop taking anti-depressants and waking up in the middle of the night wishing I owned firearms.

But every once in a while I'll read about a new containment lab opening up somewhere where they're going to be testing Ebola or Dengue Fever or Brain-Explodes disease, and I think, I could do that.

I really liked that job.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I was talking to [ profile] bcholmes today about an incident that happened once and that has had me completely mystified ever since. It's been close to two decades, but something about that "poem" I wrote just knocked it loose to rattle around in my head.

I had a friend - lets call her Sue for the purpose of this blog. Note that she bears no relationship whatsoever with any actual Sue either living or dead. Sue and I used to hang around a lot - we were both single, heavy drinkers and had jobs with sufficient income that we could support all of our bad habits. That's usually a killer combination for me. Anyway most weekends we were out causing some form of mayhem together.

At the same time, I had another friend. Let's call him Bill. Also bearing no relation to any actual Bill living or dead. Sue and I both knew Bill, and thought he was a good guy and enjoyed his company. We didn't really "hang out" per se, but we liked the same bands, drank at the same watering holes, occasionally ended up at the same parties. That kind of thing.

So Bill lived under the poverty line, and it came to pass that he needed to get out of his apartment. And he sent a general message out to his friends asking if anybody could lend him some cash to put towards first and last. Not asking for pity or saying poor me, just "if you could do this it would really help me out".

I didn't know him that well at the time, but it wasn't a huge amount of money that he needed, and I was doing pretty good financially back then. So I offered. So he showed up at my apartment, wrote out a little contract - to my somewhat impressed bemusement - we both signed it and I gave him a cheque. And once a month for the next two years an envelope would appear in my mailbox with a cheque in it, taking another small slice off of the debt. Once - maybe twice - he phoned and said it was a particularly tight month and he couldn't do it, was that ok? And I said yes and the following month another cheque would appear right on schedule.

I never really thought that much more about it. More importantly to the point of this story, I never told anybody about it. Mostly because it was a deal between me and him and it never really occured to me to mention it to anybody at the time. I have no idea if he told anybody or not. But, the fact that he had sent out a call asking people for help was public knowledge, along with the fact that he moved the following month.

So it happened that one night I was sitting around at Sue's place with a handfull of people all sitting around and drinking. And for whatever reason Bill's name came up. And Sue started talking about how she didn't really like him that much, talking about him dismissively in way that indicated that she thought his character was in some way flawed. And then the kicker came. She looked me right in the eye and said, "You know when he moved last year he borrowed a whole bunch of money from people and never paid them back."

In retrospect I probably should have said spoken up given that there were other people there. I did later take a couple of them aside and tell them privately that Sue was full of shit. And in my defense, I haven't noticed that Bill's reputation suffered much as a result.

But what really went on my head at that exact moment is that a little filing drawer marked "Will Make Shit Up About You And Tell Those Lies To Other People When You Are Not Around" opened in my head, Sue dropped neatly into it, and the drawer closed. From that moment on I didn't believe a single word that came out of her mouth. I didn't make a big deal about it, but there were times that it was pretty obvious that I was treating her as an unreliable witness and if anybody asked me why, I told them the truth. And I was supremely unshocked when she finally turned her nasty habit on me and we just stopped interacting altogether.

You know I've never told Bill this story. Maybe I should - I still hang out with him sometimes.

Sue, on the other hand, I haven't seen in well over ten years. She left town at some point, angry and hurt that over the years all her "so-called friends" had abandoned her and I don't know what happened to her afterwards. I hope she managed to get her shit sorted out because I think she was a pretty unhappy person.

But to this day I can not figure out what the entire purpose of that little incident was. Why the fuck would anybody do something that... pointless. It's not even about the lie itself, I just don't get why she would do that when there was absolutely zero profit in it for her. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

You know, some days I wonder if maybe I'd stop getting headaches if I stopped insisting that people make sense.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
As some of you have noticed, I've been updating [ profile] crazy_boat again.

Warning: Next few posts will be getting into the really oogie bits.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
When I was 17 I lived with the guy I always refer to as "The Wife Beater".

When I met him, he had just recently gotten out of jail. (I know, I know, I was young and stupid.) We had pretty much nothing, and we ended up spounging off a lot of his friends. It all worked out, when I got a job and started paying for an apartment, a lot of his friends started spongnig off me.

Anyway, apart from the usual collection of thugs, cons and street people, one of his friends turned out to be some guy who visited random people in jail as a part of his church outreach program. He visited a number of people actually, and one of them just happened to be The Wife Beater (TWB). The theory behind the visits being that if you gave people an alternative support and social group other than thugs, cons and street people, maybe they could stay out of jail in the future. This friend - I can't for the life of me remember his name, but let's call him Mr Smith - was a very pleasant middle-aged Jamaican man and a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Mr Smith had been really adamant that TWB keep in touch with him after getting out of jail, so I got dragged along to dinner with him and Mrs Smith. They spent a lot of time talking about the Bible with TWB happily agreeing with everything they said. I didn't say much, both because I was very shy back then and also because I really didn't know what to say. At the end of the evening the Smith's ended up inviting us to go to church with them, and TWB accepted for both of us. (He was like that.)

Going to church with them was a bit of an experience. I didn't know much about Adventists - still don't - but they hold their services on Saturdays. The service was very dynamic, with an energetic minister who did a lot of passionate shouting, and lots of "amen" and "hallaluah" coming out of the audience. They also were apparently really down on the premarital sex, or at least that's what I gathered from the sermon.

They also went out of their way to be very welcoming to guests. And every single person there knew right away that we were guests the absolute second we walked in the door for the simple reason that we were the only white people in the entire church. At the end of the service TWB completely disappeared under a sea of dark suits, while I had my hands clasped by what must have fifty or sixty very sincere, very friendly and very floral middle-aged women. I was shy to the point of being timid back then and I was more than a little freaked out by the whole experience of finding myself the centre of attention. I think we visited the Smith's once more in their home, but we never went to another church service.

The fact that we didn't really want to hang out with them as such didn't stop them from wanting to stay in touch, and Mr Smith would often call the apartment to talk to TWB. At some point in those conversations he offered us some second-hand furniture and TWB accepted. Mr Smith made vague plans to come by some time in the week, but he never made it on the agreed-upon date. He didn't make it the night after that, either. A couple more days passed and we just kind of forgot about it.

Friday night rolled around, and the few guys in TWB's social circle who had worked that week picked up their pay. We were the only ones who had an actual apartment so everybody ended up back at our place. A couple of guys picked up beer, somebody else brought some smoke, and our tiny basement was soon full of smoke and loud music and raucous dirty jokes and boastful stories about the last time somebody got really high/stole something/got in a fight.

Then the doorbell rang.

We didn't even hear it over the loud music, our landlady finally came downstairs to yell at us that there was somebody trying to get in the door. I opened it and a dozen freshly-scrubbed faces smiled down the stairs at us into the hazy room. With Mr Smith in the centre of them.

TWB immediately bolted into the bathroom and locked the door.

I could not get TWB to come out of the bathroom. So I grabbed one of TWB's friends - a guy named Hutch - and the two of us helped them carry the furniture down the stairs. Once the unloading was done Mr Smith wanted to talk to TWB, so Hutch hanmered on the bathroom door until he finally came out. He was red to the collar and he shame-facedly told Mr Smith that he had been drinking like he was talking to his school principal.

Trhough this entire thing the rest of the TWB's friends had been sitting in the front of the apartment without moving or saying a single word, their eyes like saucers nestled in the stubble.

Eventually the nice religous people left and everybody went back to their drinking and smoking and telling stories about the last time they got really high/stole something/got in a fight. Except that every now and then there would be a lull in the coversation and Hutch would bring up how we had just had a dozen Seventh Day Adventists deliver furniture to our apartment in the middle of a party. And then the two of us would fall apart in helpless giggles.

TWB never did learn to see the humour in it.


the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)

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