Feb 28, 2007

996: You'll Be Lucky To Get Out Of Life Alive

So what caveat or nugget of wisdom do you have? Go on, go ahead, you know you want to do it--go ahead and cast a pearl before the swine.

I'm having one of those days where it seems like everything is going to hell in a handbasket, then everything suddenly seems to turn around, but when you look at it it's still going to hell, just on a different road.

I think I need spring. I need spring to come and walk the land with her milk-pale skin and flowing red hair, drawing her cloak of green across everything. I'm tired of lying dormant. I need the sun so desperately. I need the promise of green newness.

What to do for a 1000th post? Any ideas? Perhaps a house party? Free gifts for the 1000th reader here? Like I get 1000 readers across a year's worth of posting. A signed photograph of Edward Norton, who just so happens to be a close personal friend?

I think I need sleep. I need to write, but I need sleep, and the restorations of dreams that I don't recognise anymore.

Give Till It Hurts. Or At Least Stings A Little Bit.

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Title: Mr.
First Name:
Last Name: Irrelephant
May we read your name on the air? YES

I've been a proud sponsor for years now, and have always felt that Red River Radio is one of the few places where I really get my money's worth. I always find myself making my 'regular' sponsorship during the Fall pledge drive, then making another, smaller donation in spring--I feel it's the least I can do to help keep quality things on my radio, like the hours of beautiful classical music, Garrison Keillor's PHC and Writer's Almanac, Fred Child's Performance Today, and all the wonderful, numerous weekend shows. Thank you for the opportunity/.

Irrelephant here.

Hey. Do your bit, if you listen to Public Radio. And if you don't listen to Public Radio, or don't have a good one around you, listen to MINE. Just click the link up at the top and stream it live to your desktop.

And give them a few dollars while you're at it.

Feb 26, 2007

It Ain't Easy, Being Green

And damned tasty.

Yeah, this is the night where I'm just too tired to be original.

What Irrelephant Means
I is for Irresistible
Yeah. It comes with having a colourful candy shell and a dark chocolate interior.

R is for Rebellious
You shoulda seen my mullet days.

R is for Refined
Check the fedora. Need I say more? Thought not.

E is for Extraordinary
Damn skippy, Skippy, and don't you feckin' forget it. Now if you'll 'scuse me, I have to go save the Amazon rain forest.

L is for Lovable
Come here and give us a big hug, you doof.

E is for Extreme

P is for Powerful
Run your third-eye over this chi power.

H is for Helpful
Want a hand starting your own blog?

A is for Ambitious
Top of the world, Ma, top of the world!

N is for Neat
*chortle* Okay, not even I can pull that one off.

T is for Tolerant
Get outta my face, you stinking...! Oh, wait, sorry. I thought you were a circus midget.
What Does Your Name Mean?

One Of These Days

I'm going to dance with the King of Sweden.

Alternatively, one of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces. Bonus points to anyone who can tell me where those lines come from, and the answer to one is "What I thought I heard when that song played."

They say (who is this "they" person anyway?) that laughter is the best medicine. I'm inclined to diagree. Hard work is the best medicine, at least where I'm concerned. Laughing while working hard is better, but it's rare enough.

Saturday was a misery. A monstrous storm was struggling it's way across the state, and wrecked what was, for me, going to be a wonderful springtime day outside, working to bring some order and beauty to the benighted moonscape that is my yard. Not so. So, I spent most of the day moping around. Constructive stuff, you know.

Sunday, however, bore promise, like the new green grown covering your rosebush after what you thought was a disastrous pruning accident. I worked. I worked like a slave in high cotton, to use a saying from down heah. I washed cars. I swept the garage, and the driveway. I polished the new chrome bits on Rita's engine, and I even did a little mechanicing on her. I cleaned, I organized, I washed seventeen British tonnes of laundry, I rearranged a bunch of crap from out my garage to neat places in my shed (my bucket collection was getting out of control) and I otherwise worked myself into sheer and ecstatic exhaustion.

And since today turned out to be as poor as piss in your boots, I remedied it by...wait for it...working!

Without boring you with all the details, most of which will be of interest to only me, I transplanted a wheelbarrow-full of iris bulbs to one of the two token swamps I have (grey-water runoff areas) which as a byproduct helped me one step further along in repairing my overgrown front ditch banks, I dug up some troublesome weeds, and discovered that two of the three transplanted wild Easter lilies (I blogged about them last year, they're called hymenosomething or others...) I stole from a roadside ditch are not only growing but spreading! YES! He shoots, he scores!

So. Get yer arse out there and plant something. And if you can't plant, transplant.

Feb 25, 2007

Seven Posts To Go

to reach 1000, and what am I doing?

The Sunday Space Filler!

A meme, which you don't have to answer as I shall not be tagging anyone, but if you're interested just let me know you answered it so I can give you, as the kids say, "mad props."


Three Things Meme

1) If you died and went to Heaven, what is the first thing you want to hear?
"How in the golden left testicle of Jeebus did YOU get here? Ah well, come on in, it's too late now."

2) What is your all-time favourite smell?
Freshly turned earth. I guess growing up surrounded on all sides by agriculture (and by that I mean thousands of acres of fields, not local gardening clubs) I've learned that the sight of huge spaces of brown, freshly-cultivated ground means spring is coming, growth is near, and that incredible, indescribable, heady smell in the air speaks to the gardener in my heart.

3) If you were stuck on a desert island, which one author's complete collection of books would you want with you?
Oh, no prob there. Nobody can write half as well as Ray Bradbury. Nobody has spanned and continues to span genres like Bradbury. Horror, science fiction, operatic yarns and cautionary tales, this man is unstoppable. I could happily read his entire corpus straight through and then start again at the beginning.

So. After my eBay auctions end and I have that all wrapped up I'll come back and visit some more. If you're in the market for vintage 1970's Air Force stock photograph prints, then check me out, seller name "gentlemanrook" on eBay.

Feb 22, 2007

Many Happy Returns

I didn't miss calling her yesterday to send my love and best wishes, but I DID miss posting a glaring, obnoxious birthday wish here for the only person I know who has, after a 14 hour retail toy store shift at Christmas time, braved a freezing cold parking lot and suspicious police officers at 3 am just to stand around and talk to me: my syster.

Happy Birthday, Tyger!

Feb 20, 2007

Nicer Than Being Bit By A Monkey

Not being Catholic means I need to come up with new and innovative ways to be happy/guilty during major religious holidays like Ash Wednesday and Lent. So, I've decided that I'm glad Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season is upon me because it means I can go to McDonald's and order a double fish fillet with extra fish patties and lots of tartar sauce(doubleplus tartargood McFish?) without fear of it being the one sandwich that has sat ignored and unsold under the heat lamps for six hours and become deeply infestercated with some sort of new and undiscovered strain of samonella.

Feb 19, 2007

Mea Maxima Culpa

Okay. Before I get too much further and forget, thank you for the kind words that you guys posted on the previous entry and/or emailed to me. I had intentionally turned off commenting on that post for...I don't know. Fear? Seems it was utterly unfounded. Again, thank you. It meant a great deal indeed.

Kay. On with the new stuff.

I'm falling smooth the fuck apart. Getting old, you see, does that. I've been trapped here of late in a spiral of, well, falling apart. Had a doc's appt. today as a follow up on the Paxil, at which time I told him I had weaned my own self off it. He looked a little surprised, but took one look at my freshly-waxed moustaches, bristling with righteous something or other, smiled and said "Okay," in his Mexican accent, which I shall not try to reproduce here phonetically, because it would look more like "Hookay," but I digress. "Okay," sez he, "Just remember that for the next six months if you feel suicidal or want to kill anyone, be sure and call me."

I'm still not certain if he was joking.

The other part of my evening was spent getting a wrist splint (like Mad Max, only on my wrist and not on my leg, and not worth nearly as many cool points) and some non-steroidal (no neighing for me!) anti-inflamatory meds for my tennis elbow.

"But Doc, I don't play tennis" I said, gamely.

Seems about three months ago I damaged the ligament that runs from my elbow up and over the top of my forearm and terminates somewhere around my wrist, and it's never healed, only gotten more and more inflamed, which equals, for me, lots of pain whenever I do this ("Then don't do that!") with my arm. So it's a crazy black-nylon rig for me that makes me type all funny (it's taken me three and a half days just to write this much) and makes me itchy sweaty and is going to do terrible things to my tan not to mention preventing me from riding Betty (the bike) but hey, I'd rather stop hurting.

Oh, and did I mention that my eyeballs feel like they're made of chrome and are resting in a set of rusty orbits? I spent three hours online a few nights ago, sans overhead light, working on my taxes. "Labyrinthine" isn't the word for that process. "Sharp stick up the joxie" is closer, but let's not mince words...it was bad. But I got it done, and in exchange I seem to have strained my eyeball muscles.

Yeah, laugh all you want but I'm the one that's gonna puke all over you when I twitch my eyes around to refocus on something else and it hurts like somebody just stuck a sharp stick up my joxie. That being said, I'm going to cut this post short before I end up spending a whole week sitting here whining about the glories of getting older and working on a computer without good lighting or wearing my glasses.

The good news is that the doc says when this splint thing comes off I'll be able to play the piano, which is great, because I never could play it before!


Feb 14, 2007

This Is Irrelephant's Brain Off Drugs:

Any questions? *sizzle sizzle*

Be warned: this is going to be an intense, personal post. It is going to involve my experiences with mood-altering prescription medication, and might make you uncomfortable, uneasy, and will no doubt alter your impression of me as a human.

A little over a year ago, I decided after a life of near-crippling depression and anxiety to set aside my distrust of medication in general and mood-leveling drugs specifically. I formally requested that my MD put me on something for what I think is undiagnoised bipolar disorder. After I discussed with him at length my very real concerns about addiction and man-made medicine in general, he prescribed Paxil CR, 12.5mg once a day, the smallest dose available. I have taken this medication daily for the past year and a half, with the very occasional (less than once every two months) adddition of a single dose of Skelaxin for days when I felt my emotional stability was in a dangerous zone.

I have been depressive all my life, let's get that out in the open. It's been an ongoing thing since day one. I have tried to deal with it in many ways, and thus far the only peace I have found is in meditation and a half-hearted pursuit of Zazen, and even that peace has been fleeting at best. As I've gotten older my depressive swings have gotten worse; slowly, incrementally, as my responsibilities of work, family and seeing to my personal well-being increased.

When I started the Paxil, I was warned by my GP that there would be certain side-effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, decreased reaction times, sexual dysfunction, and yawning for no reason. Yes, you read that right--yawning for no reason. That was the only fun side-effect; I'd be working steadily, utterly awake, and out of the blue I'd produce a jaw-cracking yawn. The wool-gathering stage that lasted for two weeks was annoying. Vulgar Wizard was the only person in the office who knew I was starting meds, and she'd catch me sometimes several times a day those first few days just staring off into space, utterly unable to focus on what I was doing, unaware I had stopped.

The next year and a half passed fast, and expensively. Happiness don't come cheap.

It passed in a haze. I didn't realise that until just a few days ago, when I stopped. The thing they don't really tell you about these drugs is that not only are the bottoms, the black-edged nightmare days gone, so are the elations, the being happy day to days, the ecstasies. It's a double-edged sword. You give up a lot to be free of that depression, and part of it is that you become MILD. Lukewarm. Middle of the road.

So now this post has taken the most part of four days or so. The first few days on a half dose? I felt like someone had taken my emotional self out and scrubbed it, like Scott said so well a while back, up and down a cheese grater. I felt as raw as a freshly-pulled tooth, a gaping, raw hole upon which everything touched with fire and claws. I felt like someone had just pulled me out of the womb, into blinding light and scorching heat and freezing cold, and I had no control, no defenses, but I knew everything, felt it all. I wanted to die more than I have wanted to in a very long time those first two days. I felt like I was riddled with raw nerves, each one exquisitely longing to touch something miserable, something guaranteed to cause suffering.

Thinking back over those past four days, those short, eternal days, I wonder just what my GP would have suggested I take to alleviate the suffering. Morphine? Pot? Skelaxin, which is even more addictive? I don't know, but I'm through it now, so it no longer matters. I'm done, standing back on my newborn feet, my nerves retracted for the most part, trying to remember if this is how I really used to feel or if there's some sort of residual balance left behind as my liver and kidneys continue to cleanse my system of the drug.

It's passed now. The black-hats are gone back into the woodwork, the razors are retracted, and the gnarled silk of my emotions has been if not smoothed then at least unknotted and laid out to relax. I'm through the other side. I realised this morning that I was happy, and had been happy for the entire morning. Not a rabid, manic happy but a nice, warm happy, the feeling that some call contentment. I was doing my job, I was breathing good air, I had my evening exercise and meditation to look forward to, and I was happy.

It was a very refreshing feeling. I felt at home in my skin again. FEEL at home in my skin. And yes, the potentials are still there, for manic highs and suicidal lows, but now I have a year behind me, to compare. I can be that person, or I can be this one. The only thing being, this person has to learn another way to deal with the swings, with the crazed jags up and down. This me is going to seek solace in exercise, in physical improvement, and in mental exercise, mental improvement. I'm returning to my long-left-behind meditation, my studies of zazen, and through that I hope to attain a modicum of self-control, of self-centering.

Today really is the first day of the rest of my life.

Feb 12, 2007

Resting On My Laurels

It's tempting to me, especially here of late, to let what I believe is a particularly good post just sit and gather merit. Kind of like wine, but without all the acres of vines, the barefoot virgins with grape-stained ankles and the snooty French sommiliers rattling their sabres at each other.

Okay, so it's nothing at all like wine, and there's no sabres to be rattled, but you get the drift.

There might be a grape-stained virgin, but I doubt it.

So what can I tell you? Things proceed apace. Plans are unfolding slowly, Belle is growing hair about as slowly as those ultra-late night infomercials that you're just too lazy to get up and turn off, and spring is trying to get here.

That's something that's been on my mind a lot here of late: the seasons. I heard today on the radio that upstate New York has something like 11 FEET of snow in places. Roof-high and above. Wow. All I've got is rain and temperatures high enough that I was sweating while sweeping my driveway off.

I've always had a sort of shock to see the tons of gladiolus in full and riotous bloom up in Eugene, Oregon when I go to pick up my daughter after summer vacation is over in August. I'm surprised, you see, because my own riotous gladioli are already growing sprouts, will be in full flower in a few weeks, and be dead months and months before the glads in Oregon even consider sending out a test-rootlet.

The birds are out, in their full panoply of colours. And Nature is as cruel as ever. That's why I only have a picture of a mated pair of Mourning, or Ring-Neck doves to show you. This happy couple was spending their day in a shower of bird seed being flung onto my front porch by whole gaggles of cardinals, house wrens, chicadees, and other unidentified bits of feather and fluff.

Roses are already appearing in the stores down here. Granted they're still the pot-and-bare-canes variety, or worse, the 1 1/2 grade jobbies that are three spindly canes and some bare roots wrapped in damp sawdust and paper, but still, roses. It's already that time. Nancy Dancehall, my blogging buddy up in Colorado is still shoveling snow, and dreading the return of more of the same. She won't even be laying her garden in for another two months or so, whereas I'm already laying out compost and planning the first crop of the year. I'm willing to bet that Scott (From Oregon) has even come out of his hibernation/drunken stupor yet.

It's funny how we can be such 21st century people--Bluetooth, iPods, cellular phones that shoot video, oil shortages, a thousand channels of shit on the HDTV and we still have a hard time seeing past our own fences. It still astounds me that there are people not too far from me (state-wise) who are still wearing their big coats, pouring water mixed with antifreeze over their windshields, and envisioning a far-off future that won't involve snow-plows and tire chains.

So it is to you, my snow-bound and frosty-toed friends that I raise a hot, steaming cup of Earl Grey and say "Hang in there, it's coming."

I should know, tomorrow's forecast high is in the mid 70's.

Feb 9, 2007

I See, Therefore I Am

I hope I never take my vision for granted. I saw such things today, such marvelous, miraculous, simple things. Proof that Life needs a purpose if it hasn't got one already.

I saw Canadian geese flying overhead, so far up they were merely grey specks moving across a sky made equally grey by rain and fog. Spread out in a loose V, ragged to the point that it was more of a giant check mark across the sky, they winged their steady way. 'Northward,' I realised with a shock, 'they're flying north.' Flying back to their homes, their nesting areas. 'Spring is coming,' their presence announced. Even though I can't feel it yet, they know. In their bones and their instincts they know spring is near.

I couldn't help but wonder where they had been, what they had seen. I wondered if they might land in someone's yard somewhere up north, maybe walk around, stately grey gentlemen, exchanging loud words with their traveling companions, stopping to take a drink from a freshly melted snowdrift, then back up, all of them, in a sudden rush of wings fly back into the sky like grey ash blown up the chimney.

I saw a train today. Nothing unusual in that, I see three or four a day now that the Port of New Orleans is back in business. This train of all the dozens I have seen was different because it was alike. Ordinarily I wonder who assembles train, what madman is in charge of lining up each lumber car, each tanker, each boxcar. Ordinarily a train consists of the most motley collection of stock one could imagine, as if some giant child had been playing with his train set, reaching into a box of rolling stock without looking, simply hooking up whatever came to hand then setting the whole chaotic assemblage rumbling down the line, all the while making ghostly 'whoo-whooooo' noises.

This train, however, was striking for it's similarity. In front were two huge dusky yellow and black Union Pacific diesels, one pulling and one pushing, grumbling along tail to tail. In the middle was a seemingly endless procession of identical cars; low-sided cars for carrying stone or mineral, each one a dark rust red. Plain they were, each as alike to it's fore and aft partner as peas on a vine, each rumbling along in turn, a mile or more of the same thing, as though Life's film had stuck and was stuttering along on the same few frames. I was ready to give up in disgust and look away after so long, but what seemed an endless monotony of cars was ended by the terminal vehicle; another diesel, this one a slate blue and grey beast being towed along by it's tail. It's huge blunt face looked back down the track as though it were the low man in the hierarchy. Quiet, it was the simpleton, chosen to face backwards in the last truck, his rifle held in thick fingers, ready to defend the caravan.

I saw the power and telephone lines strung out along the highway as I always do, every time I pass by, but this time the long sagging black vines were covered by passers-by. Dozens and dozens of blackbirds, each shoulder to shoulder with his or her neighbor, huddled so thick they looked like a child's attempt to draw a straight line with a black crayon; a thick, vaguely wobbly dynamic with a distinct sway to it's back, but for all it's incongruity still a line.

So what did you see today?

Many Happy Returns

Okay, guys and dolls--Lil' Miss Dancehall decided to throw this grand par-tay for all the Aquariums around the blog-o-sphere here, but she quietly neglected to tell us that today is HER birthday, soooooo...

Happy Birthday Nancy Dancehall!

Everybody now! *singing wildly off key* Haaaaaapy birthdayyyy to youuuuuuu.....

Feb 8, 2007

Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler, S'il Vous Plaît

Let the good times roll! It's Mardi Gras! Well, almost. Mardi Gras isn't until Fat Tuesday the 20th, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent but that don't mean we can't throw down now!

There's three different King Cakes on the table there - the classic cinnamon, a chocolate "Krewe of Zulu" King Cake with german chocolate filling, and a strawberry cream cheese filled for those of you who like a little more sweet with your sweets. Plenty of throw cups to go around, grab a handfull of beads and someone que up the Jazz!

And since it's Carnivale (check your French--"carne" "vale," "end of meat") I've got plenty of crawfish, there's some roast pork there on the sideboard, fried pistolette rolls to make sandwiches, and even a few po'boy buns if you're really hungry. And that tray over there is a nutria I baked especially for Nancy Dancy. Mmmmm, good eatin'!

Okay, truth be told I'm not an Aquarius, I'm actually a Virgo but hey, we all have our crosses to bear, right? And who says Virgos can't party?

A Tale of Two Tails, or

The Dog Show, Part II

I used to not be a people person. And to be quite honest, I'm still not all that keen on most people. People let you down by not being everything you hope they will be. But sometimes, once in a while, you meet folks who seem as genuine and open as you might hope. And sometimes you meet these people at dog shows, and sometimes these people own Borzois, too.

I've met four people now, three of the four being Borzoi people, who have struck me with their openness, their compassion for newbies, and their genuine love and joy drawn from their dogs and showing them in competition. The first was Rita, who comments here occasionally as, oddly enough, Lady Borzoi or Mama Borzoi. One innocent question from me at a dog show lead me over a year later, circuitously, to not only owning but showing in the ring one of these beautiful, elegant dogs. Rita has become our first mentor, the most important, I feel, because she opened the door for us, she set our feet upon a road that I had always viewed rather askance, a road which has become an eye-opening and wholly enjoyable journey. And she's held a quiet secret--not only is she currently competing for a place in the Westminster Kennel Club show, she is also becoming a professional breed judge.

Our second mentor was Nancy, if you recall from my posts a while back. She is the lady who came into our lives by coincidence, showing us the basics of gaiting, judge's examinations, and being invisible during the show procedures. Her hidden secret? She revealed a little of the behind-the-scenes, as she is Chairwoman of our local AKC organization.

This last show in Pine Bluff was a formative one for all of us, and for our mentoring process. It helped Penny (I hope) learn that if she's in her kennel it doesn't mean that we're leaving her. It helped Belle gain more comfort and relaxation in the noisy, oftimes crazed environs of a dog show. And it lead us to our third (and fourth) mentors, Ed and Linda, an utterly wonderful couple who own and show a handful of Borzoi. They spent the entire weekend with us, sharing over supper all sorts of grooming tips, handling ideas, and in general answering any and every question we could put to them, from shampoo preferences to the ins and outs of the very political world of dog showing.

Their secret? They own and show Phillip, one of the top ten Borzoi in the country, destined to be The Top Dog.

You know, I'm not a religious person. I no longer believe in a guiding power, a supreme being, or any of that hocus pocus. I know people who look at coincidences and strange events as proof that the Universe is watching us (and laughing, usually) and frankly I have never felt comfortable attributing random happenstance to any guiding Light, but here of late I'm having to start to seriously reconsider my atheist standings. The thing is - to encounter four such powerful people in a field into which we're venturing as innocent as church mice is awfully coincidental. I can't help but feel that we're being manipulated, guided, used as as factor for change in a game so big we can barely see the other players, much less the gameboard.

Irrelephant to Borzoi's pawn four. Checkmate.

Feb 5, 2007

Running With The Pack

I've been thinking all weekend about this post. The first post after the big weekend dog show in Pine Bluff. Now that it's arrived, I've got nothin'.

Okay, I've got more than nothing, I've got a weekend-full of eye-opening experiences, sights of wonder, and hillbillies, but would you believe I'm still working on putting it into a coherent whole? Or maybe several coherent wholes, spread over a few days. Let's start, shall we?

Belle had her third and fourth AKC shows this past weekend in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The thing that struck me about the area of Arkansas that we were in? It looked just like Louisiana. I seem to recall from my childhood that Arkansas was all about mountains and green trees and quiet hidden springs, but it seems that when winter wraps Arkansas in it's snowy cape you get the same thing Louisiana has--lots of brown grass and bare trees. Granted, Pine Bluff had something that LA doesn't: snow.

Okay, so snow wasn't simply falling from the sky but there were some patches of snow left over from a storm a while back that lay in areas which never got out of shade, and therefore lasted the whole weekend. I made a very small snowball the first time I laid eyes on this white wonder, but then I realised that dignity and restraint were the order of the day for a professional dog handler's helper, so I discreetly flung the offending comet at a passing Bichon and went back to the grooming area to see if I could hold something heavy or move some kennels around.

Hmmm. Arkansas.

I will give AR this: they've got deer like some states have drive-by shootings. Which is not to say that you can't travel the highways at night without fear of being shot. I spotted at least ten deer in about an hour, a number that is, for me, unthinkable, and they all seemed to be free of firearms. I'm used to seeing a single deer once a year or so, maybe packing a secondhand rifle. I'm not used to seeing a whole gang of cavorting, disarmed woodland creatures all in the space of about sixty seconds. But there they were; white dapple-backed fauns and big brown and tan does, foraging in the deep ditches flanking the highway, drinking from clear pools of standing water, or casually browsing someone's flowerbed for the choicest new snapdragons.

Another interesting point: my sense of being an outsider disappeared in quite a strange manner. See, I'm used to feeling like the outsider. I travel about as far and as ably as a tortoise in concrete, so whenever I venture much farther than the next town I get, understandably, a little shaky. And since I was driving this trip, naturally we got lost just before arriving at the convention center/hotel complex. And by the time I had asked directions of every numbskull Taco Bell employee and foreign national manning a BP or Shell station, each of them uniquely lacking any sense of location and narrative ability, I was ready to explode with ich ein bin auslander-type fury at the next "Where The Hell Am I?" stop. By the time we arrived at our destination by dint of having been everywhere it wasn't, I was, naturally, a little frazzled and feeling every inch of that five hour, 230+ mile trip. My bed and my cozy office were a very long way and time away. When we finally walked into the lobby of our very nice hotel, leading a tired Borzoi and an equally tired Papilion on leashes, it all changed.

There were people all over the place; checking in for the night, riding the glass elevators, looking for the swimming pool, and haranguing the overworked bellhops.

And they all had dogs.

Dogs of every make, model and brand. Big ones and small ones, loud and quiet ones, long and short and hairy and nearly bald. And then it hit me with the force of an unexpected snowball flung by a complete stranger: I was now dog show people. I belonged there just as much as anyone else did. After the initial shock passed and an open class Saint Bernard had mixed me and an exceedingly well-spoken Doberman a couple of Smirnoff Silver martinis all my stress and the anxiety of the trip fell away, along with all my inhibitions. We belonged here, me and Mrs. Irrelephant and Belle and Penny and Sweitzer the Doberman. We were here to show our dog in the ring against other dogs (well, not Sweitzer, he was there for a conference on Global Economics,) and by all of heaven's stars we were going to stay.

It also helped that we had a fifth floor smoking room, so I could sit in the provided office chair, prop my feet on the couch, open the curtains and stare out across all of white, ice-frosted downtown Pine Bluff and smoke my pipe, just like I'd do at home.


Feb 1, 2007


I die a little bit inside every time I read some new abuse or crippling of the language.

Our nurses use laptop computers to report their daily visits with our homebound patients, and when they download their visit information each evening I check to make sure that each visit was properly recorded in the system. And like any computer-based anything, the system fails occasionally and the visits go missing. When this happens I email our corporate IT group and ask them to find whatever I happen to be missing.

Ordinarily, this system works pretty well. I receive either a phone call or an email within a few hours telling me that the visit was found and returned to our system or it is missing and needs to be re-entered, or they otherwise direct me. Yesterday I posted for a missing visit and received this Orwellian email response:

**Note by IT employee name, 01 Feb 2007:
I cannot find this visit in vissearch, laputil or pocimports. Agent will have to manually reimport.

Wow. So, neither vissearch, laputil or pocimports had it, eh? Did you check rightthink, the Ingsoc manual or the doubleplus ungood domsub? How about running the Voit Kampf test, or maybe if you stuck the whole thing in the subetheric frammistantz and pinged the joycamp. Or perhaps IT is going to release a reliability enhancement, and all my public outcying is going to get me arrested for thoughtcrime.

Oh, please forgive me, I need to get back to work. The clock is striking thirteen.