Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The First Day of Spring

Stop that. Don't look for a calendar. Trust me on this one. The dust was so thick in the air yesterday that I couldn't even see the sky, let alone the mountains. If the wind is blowing like all get out, it must be spring.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mr. Litter-al

Along the interstate within Las Cruces city limits is a sign which reads DO NOT LITTER $300 FINE (note no punctuation). I presume that the intended message is that one who is caught littering will be fined the amount of $300.00. However, that isn’t what it says. Is it?

If I insert the assumed period after "litter", does that mean it is okay if I want to drop $300 out my window? Three $100 bills would be easiest, naturally, but three hundred $1 bills would catch the breeze so much more nicely. Then again, $300 in quarters would bounce rather well. Do you think 30,000 pennies would create a road hazard?

If I read the sign as is, I can interpret it to mean that I should not let a fine in the amount of $300 (should I have one) blow across the highway. The sign is wise to warn drivers, as even I would be tempted to "lose" my fine and pretend I never had it. On the other hand, I’d still have to pay the $300, even if I didn’t have my paperwork, so what’s the point?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Belated Valentine's Thoughts

My weekend walking trail takes me by a large, used bookstore. One of their display windows changes seasonally. They had Christmas decorations; now they have St. Valentine's Day stuff; shortly they'll change it for St. Patrick's Day.

On the Valentine's-themed window is a sign instructing, "Go love yourself." My naturally dirty mind immediately wondered if the best way to "love myself" would be to perform an act of "self-abuse". If so, would that make me a sado-masochist?

Sadly, there is little to distract me at dark-thirty in the morning, so I was able to ponder some more and come up with two relevant song quotes: "Hurts so good," and, "If love hurts, you're not doing it right."

Friday, February 16, 2007

One Hump or Two?

I spoke with Boss today. I am indeed to continue processing the monthly invoice. It turns out that his instruction for Ob to learn how to do it was, in Boss's words, "a threat", so that Ob would stop asking Boss so many questions. In other words, I still have to do Ob's job, Boss used me to get a monkey off his back, and I wasn't even told that this was going on.

Moreover, Boss says that the client "likes" the way I do the spreadsheets. He says that the client feels Ob is a "keep him out of the office guy" and that I am a "spreadsheet guy".

Thanks. I think.

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

That's actually a pretty good metaphor, considering how many bags I have to carry to work on some days: lunchbox; bag w/planner, sunglasses, and novel; backpack with CAD class stuff; gym bag; and, if we had homework, computer bag. I put the backpack on my back, the computer bag over my shoulder, the gym bag in one hand, and my lunchbox and carryall bag in the other hand. You'd be amused by watching me maneuver out the door, lock the door, get those keys into my pocket, get down the stairs, and unlock the trunk of my car, all without setting down any of the bags. Every time, I wonder how I manage it. On Tuesday, this camel's back broke when Ob tried to set something else on it.

Background: I used to (or maybe still do, this being the crux of my tale) receive the campus solid waste invoice each month, break it down by department, and issue a spreadsheet charging each department. Over the years (three and a half now), I have also created tally spreadsheets for volume, weight, type of department, etc. Depending on how many interruptions I get, it usually takes me two to three days to finish. (I once came in on a Saturday and whizzed through the process in five hours.)

More background: Ob has been the recycling/solid waste manager for over a year, but he has no idea what his budget is, how I process the invoice, nor how he is credited for the departmental charges and any income from recycled paper. Boss told Ob that he had to learn how to process the December invoice and take over with the January invoice. At least, that's the way I interpreted it.

A few days after the invoice arrived, Ob and I found a mutually acceptable time so I could teach him. Given Ob's tendency to talk (and talk -- and talk), we agreed to meet the next day to continue his training. Given Ob's tendency to talk (etc.), we agreed to meet the next day for a third training session. Instead, Ob took his buddy, the other asst. mgr. (they're so inseparable, I've taken to calling them Chang and Eng)* and assailed the office manager for two hours, asking him to explain how Ob gets reimbursed by the departments. He never came for (what I hoped would be) his final training. (The office mgr. later told me that he probably upset Ob by telling him that he should worry about learning the invoice process from me first and master it before he attempts to figure out how the money comes back.) The next work day (after the weekend), I didn't see Ob. The following day, he was helping his cohort type up disciplinary notices for two employees, rather than learning what he was supposed to from me. It really chapped my hide (being the conscientious, rule-following being I am) that he was privy to private, personnel matters for employees not under his purview, not to mention that he wasn't doing his own job.

Obviously (no pun intended), we weren't getting anywhere, so I processed the December invoice and sent it through on my own. Ob-and-friend agreed to work on the January invoice together. (For 3.5 years, the other asst. mgr. hasn't shown the slightest interest in what I do, yet now he's gung-ho to help Ob?)

Some time last week, Ob mentioned that he had received January's invoice. I was kind of blase about the news (thinking, but not saying, "So what?"). Tuesday, during his daily confab with Tweedledee (actually, they do look a lot alike), I heard Ob say, "Here's the monthly invoice." I thought that he was talking to his other half, setting up their work session to process it, but I sensed him sneaking behind me to slip the envelope into my inbox. Whoa! Hold the phone! "I thought the two of you were going to do it this month," I interjected. Nope. In the World According to Ob, I was merely showing him what I do, so he'd be aware, but I was to keep on processing the invoice each month. Uh-uh! I put my foot down.

That was when Ob relied on his usual conversational blitzkrieg, hitting his opponent with excuses all over the place, hoping I'd be too distracted by the sheer volume of bombs to send up my anti-aircraft fire and bring him down in flames. (He don't know me very well. Do he?)

First it was Project A (what Monkey See and Monkey Do are working on) is the most important thing. Then it was the invoice is the most important thing. One, which is it, Ob? Two, I inferred that the invoice was important enough for me, but he was too important for the invoice. (Zigzag maneuver, not a bad tactic, but I kept him in my sights.)

Next, he tried the "I have too many other things to do" routine. Apparently, my projects (X, Y, and Z) pale in importance -- in his mind -- to his project, even though they have deadlines two weeks earlier than his. He asked why I couldn't do the invoice right then. "In your own words, [Ob], 'I have too many other things to do'." (He hit our starboard engine! We're losing altitude!)

His third attempt was quite lame. "We had a discussion about this." I don't know who "we" was, but it certainly did not include me! (Man, that second engine isn't sounding too good, either.)

Next salvo: "You're not a team player." If being a team player means doing whatever Ob wants me to do (especially if he feels it's beneath him), then I need a new dictionary.

Last chance for the doomed aircraft: act childish and petulant. 1) He started yelling (while I remained calm and quiet). 2) He said that he was "pissed off" (not obscene, but rude nonetheless) at me. 3) He declared that "we" (Ob and his shadow and me, this time) would have a meeting with Boss the next day (i.e. running to Daddy) to discuss my "bad attitude". 4) He slammed the door when he left the room. (Crash and burn, baby!)

Fine by me. All I need to know is whose responsibility it is. I will abide by Boss's ruling. I will keep the meeting focused on the invoice processing and not allow it to swell into everything Ob perceives I am doing wrong. I will silently repeat this mantra in my head. "I did nothing wrong." I will tell Ob, when he interrupts me as I tell my perception of Boss's earlier edict (as he most certainly will, being as ob-noxious as he is), that I will not tolerate being interrupted and that I will return at a later time and talk to Boss one-on-one. If Boss happens to ask the circumstances of our disagreement, I will point out that I was not the one who raised his voice, who used vulgar (not obscene, but vulgar) language, and who slammed the door.

Winnah, by a knockout, me! (Okay, so I switched metaphors again.)

That was Tuesday. The meeting for Wednesday (yesterday) never happened, as The Merry Wives of Windsor didn't even come into the office during the day. (Although I am fairly certain that they spoke with Boss at the Project A worksite, judging from some things Boss said to me that afternoon.) The meeting (which Ob so strenuously demanded) didn't happen today, either. Instead, Yin and Yang tried to kiss my butt by thanking me profusely for processing the invoice and for doing it so quickly. (First, kissing butt doesn't work on me. Second, it was too late even to try.)

Tomorrow, I will enter Boss's office and calmly ask him to clarify his instruction that Ob learn how to process the invoice: whether he is to take it over or if the training was merely to be informational. I will not use any of Ob's diversionary tactics. (I did nothing wrong, after all.) I will not be petty and point out Ob's behavioral shortcomings. I will be a rational, mature adult and not pick apart my sad, desperate coworker's behavior -- unless I am asked.

It has been a year or more since Ob falsely accused me of various things, but I have magnanimously granted him multiple second chances. This was his last one. He is now on my sh*t list. You officially have my permission to dislike him.

* I am getting tired of typing "the other asst. mgr." If you have any suggestions for a nickname for Ob's constant companion, I will entertain them here. However, please do not suggest "Blob". Although it naturally pairs itself with Ob (like Chang and Eng or Tweedledee and Tweedledum) it is too close to the person's physical nature, and I don't wish to be that cruel -- yet.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I opened a new container of cottage cheese tonight.

Hmm-hmm. Dum-de-doo.

Okay, Betty, have you stopped cringing?

Anyway, I noted that something has been added to the tamper-resistant, freshness seal between the lid and the product: instructions. "Lift tab. Peel back." Now I'm confused.

1) Were consumers having so much trouble removing the seal that the producer thought that directions were necessary? 2) Wouldn't you think that, if someone had the wherewithal to remove the lid, which does not have similar opening instructions, s/he could remove the seal, as well? 3) How am I supposed to open my yogurt? It doesn't even have a lid on top of the seal. Am I allowed to open the seal if there's no lid above it? 4) Are Americans really that stupid?

I'd like to see someone set up an experiment to determine how long it would take chimpanzees to open a cottage cheese container; yogurt might work better because it's sweeter. Step one: show a chimp a yogurt container. Step two: demonstrate to the chimp how to open the container by peeling away the seal. Step three: feed the chimp some yogurt (nummy!). Step four: give the chimp an unopened container. Step five: observe how long it takes the chimp to reach the wholesomely delicious calcium and fruit-like sugar syrup inside. It wouldn't surprise me if chimps mastered this awesomely difficult task in five seconds or less.

The problem with packaging requiring so many stupid instructions -- such as not to drop your hair dryer into a full bathtub (but it didn't say not to...) -- is lawsuit-happy people. Ever since that woman sued McDonald's because her cup of coffee didn't announce that it would actually, incredibly, amazingly, stupefyingly be, oh, shall we say, "hot", and then won the lawsuit, Americans have gladly relinquished any claim to their native intelligence for the sake of potentially millions of unearned dollars (which, if litigants truly are that stupid, would promptly be wasted). Who was dumber: the plaintiff or the jury?

These people have the thought processes of children. "Why did you do that?" "But, Mommy, you didn't tell me not to!" At least children have the excuses of inexperience or incomplete brain development. (Come to think of it, some of my employees act like children some times.)

When I was in college, we took a friend's roommate to Denny's for the first time. He was just off the plane from the Czech Republic and ordered nachos, which he had never seen before (the picture in the menu must have looked darned good). He started picking at the tortilla chips with a fork, puzzled, until we told him he could eat with his hands. He appeared delighted. The point here is that he observed, received instruction, and learned.

Did this woman never see anyone drink coffee before and say, "Ouch, that's hot!"? Did she never observe steam coming off of a food or different beverage and knew that meant it would be hot? Did she not realize, when she took the cup from the drive-up window employee, that it was warm, even in the slightest? Did she not have a cup holder where she could place it while receiving her bagged order? (In which case, why didn't she sue the auto manufacturer, as well?) Did she even, God forbid, think that it would be sensible to place the beverage between her legs because it was warm? Did she just happen to wake up that morning and decide to try this thing called "coffee" on the menu, even though she never had it before, had no idea it was a hot beverage, and then, seeing it was in a cup, put it between her legs, which is not a naturally tenable position for a cup?

"Now I know how American Gladiators stays on the air." (The Brain)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Last night, I overheard a classmate’s cell phone conversation during a break from class. He was asking his girlfriend/wife/woman of choice to pick up a "sangwich" for him when she got dinner. Another thing that really bothers me, and I have heard it from several New Mexicans, is their use of the word "acrost". This isn’t Spanglish, and I don’t consider such language dialectical. Did I miss hearing about the great spelling changes in all dictionaries and vocabulary books? Did their parents teach them to mispronounce common, easy words deliberately?

Regional pronunciations are funny. I grew up in southern New Jersey, but I don’t sound like it. I believe it’s because my parents are from Illinois. Then again, I don’t have the flat, nasal vowels like Chicagoans (nor do my parents). The summer I spent on Long Island (New York), I had a hoot teasing one of the natives about her pronunciation. While in Alabama, I had to resist assuming that everyone was stupid, based on the medias’ stereotype of southern dialects.

While I’m addressing language, here’s something else odd I noticed the other day. On the rear window of a car parked at the campus Greek Complex was the message, "Proudly engaged!" Does that mean anyone who doesn’t proclaim their impending nuptials to the world with screaming yellow paint is merely "humbly engaged"? Do you suppose, if this person were an English major, s/he would be "unabashedly betrothed"?

I walked to have my hair cut tonight. The tonsorial emporium is on "franchise row", a street teeming with nationally known establishments for dining and shopping. I passed one fast-food restaurant advertising "junior" sandwiches for 99 cents. That reminded me of the time I ordered a "value" hamburger at a competitor (also on that street). I realized that the reason I could pay less for a cheeseburger with bacon than for a regular cheeseburger was because the sandwich consisted of a miniature meat patty and tired bacon strip on a regular size bun. I asked my dining companion, "Isn’t this the same chain that once advertised, ‘Where’s the beef?’"

The woman who usually cuts my hair wasn’t working tonight, so I chanced it with another "stylist". When she reached my sideburns, I told her to leave them alone. In general, women have no clue how to handle sideburns. The vast majority of time, they end up butchering mine, so I have learned to tell them politely to keep their cutting implements on the remainder of my head. Once in a blue moon, I find a woman that seems to know how they (my sideburns, not the woman herself) should look, so I keep going to her. (My current regular is one of two I have known). I really should find a barber shop, where I don’t even have to tell the barber what to do because he’s a man and he knows sideburns.

Speaking of the remainder of my head, my hair appears to be regularly progressing backwards and down (though, thankfully, not down to my back). The stylist had difficulty finding enough hair to cut on top, but the sides and back are still fairly thick. I used to know it was time for a haircut when my hair hung in front of my eyes. Tonight, I realized that my hairline is so far up that I seriously wondered if I should have told her not to bother. The new benchmark I use is when the hair above my ears starts to look like wings on the side of my head. When I start to look like Mercury’s sandals (or, considering the amount of gray in my sideburns, like Grandpa Munster), I know it’s time for a haircut.

There’s one guy at my gym who doesn’t appear to work out at all, even though he always is dressed in a tank top and shorts. For the life of me, I can’t figure this out. Usually, I see him chatting with the staff. The other day, he was standing outside, talking to another one of the members. Once, I saw him pushing a mop-like device back and forth on the wooden floor of the group-exercise room. The cherry on top of this parfait was the day he arrived at the same time as me, and when I left after my workout, a full hour and a half later (weights & cardio), he was still talking to the staff members at the front desk!

My new bed arrived yesterday. It is much bigger than it appeared in the furniture store. (This, the deliveryman explained, is because the store displays only queen size beds, and I have a king.) It is a very nice bed, in the exact style I wanted, and the finish matches my dresser (purchased seven years ago in a different state) very well. There’s only one teensy problem: the headboard is so high that it blocks my circuit panel. I had to set up the bed eight inches away from the wall so that I can open the door to reach the circuit breakers. An adult could fit in that much space while playing hide-and-seek.

Speaking of bedroom games, I was pondering how best to share my pride in my new furniture without sounding too weird. "Hey, want to see my new bed?" sounds odd, if not downright suggestive. (Have to use that one carefully.) Then, I had an idea. I’ve been pondering (yes, I do that a lot) what the theme of my next party should be. I’ve already done a housewarming and a Halloween party. How about, when I can afford to buy the matching chest of drawers, I throw a "My bedroom set is complete!" party? Oh wait. I forgot that I really want a nice chair for that corner under the torchiere lamp. I guess I’ll have to think of another theme if I want a party some time this year. (By the way, does anyone need a metal, king size, bed frame?)

As I undressed for my shower, I pulled up the waistband of my underwear, as it had ridden down a little. Why did I bother? First of all, there was no one else around to note the ill fitting garment. Second, I took off all my clothes less than a minute later.

Share this one with your friends in other parts of the country. It concerns the weather here (a recurring topic). It is not surprising for the temperature to jump forty degrees in one day. It nearly happened today in Las Cruces. I left for work this morning wearing gloves and a knit hat. This afternoon, I left work with the windows down and the air conditioner on because it had gotten so warm inside my car.

One final thought before I post this. I learned this one while I lived in Alabama. They say that, if you live in the South and want to fly anywhere, even to Hell, you have to change planes in Atlanta. (This did appear to be true.) There was one part of flying to/from Atlanta that I did enjoy; it was a short flight (less than an hour) between Montgomery, AL and Atlanta, GA. This makes for an unusual conversation piece that I love to trot out every now and then. Atlanta is in the Eastern time zone. Montgomery is in the Central time zone. Ergo, flying west from Atlanta to Montgomery, you subtract an hour. This means, in the less-than-an-hour flight from Eastern to Central, you actually land before you took off! ("Einstein’s Delivery Service: When you absolutely, positively need it there yesterday.")

Monday, February 05, 2007


What is the cost for my time? I always thought of myself as a cheap date (greasy spoons are okay by me) but an expensive drunk (imported beer you can’t see through). Apparently, my overall value is closer to the cheap side.

I just renewed my car registration online (because, long story short, the DMV couldn’t be bothered to remember that I moved over a year ago). They charge an "electronic processing fee" for the convenience. I was expecting something like $15.00 to be tacked on. (Heck, at work, I charge 15% of departmental bills for my time processing the monthly invoice!) What was the cost? Just $1.29!

You want to charge me a buck-twenty-nine in place of me standing in line for two hours to tell someone who doesn’t care that their employer is incompetent and that’s why I had to stand in line rather than mail in a form? Please do! I’ll gladly pay $1.29 for two hours of my time! That works out to about 65 cents per hour. That’s a better deal than I got for the second Star Wars prequel at the cheap theater.

So, DMV, about that beer....