Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Speaking in Tongues

I just got back from a workplace violence and communication seminar presented by the campus Deputy Police Chief. What did I take away from it?

The campus police have just signed on for a service that will provide translations via telephone for 140 languages. Currently, the police are aware of 43 languages spoken at NMSU.

You know it's windy when...

... there's so much dust in the air that you can't see the Organ Mountains (about ten miles away).

You know it's very windy when... you can't see Tortugas Mountain ("A" Mountain), about two miles away.

You know it's super-de-duper windy when... you can look directly at the sun and not be turned away by the glare. (It was so dim, it looked like the moon.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I went to my town's brewpub this past weekend. I hadn't been there in so many years, I had forgotten it even existed.

The service was slow and inattentive. When I walked in, I observed that it was a seat-yourself facility. I've always thought there's a chance that the staff won't see you in restaurants that do this, but I've usually been pleasantly surprised. However, this place was just as I feared. I sat down, studied the menu (full of fried appetizers and burgers), and waited. And waited. And waited. Mind you, I can see how they might have missed me, what with no one else there but a couple at one table and four or five guys at the bar.

When the waitress finally approached me, she turned away so fast after I selected my beer that I couldn't even tell her what I wanted to eat. I figured I'd have the chance once she brought my beer, but I had to tell her that I also wanted to eat, to keep her from running off again. My order was brought by the waiter, who, eventually, also brought me my bill. (I didn't stick around to see who grabbed the tip.)

The beer I chose was called Anniversary Ale. I didn't ask whose anniversary or which number it commemorated, but, in my opinion, it wasn't a particularly happy marriage. It started off with a flowery taste. (Note to the world: I like looking at and smelling flowers, not drinking them. I don't like jasmine tea, either.) There was a decent hoppy flavor in the middle. There was absolutely no finish; once the beer was down my throat, all taste left my mouth as well.

After that experience, I was glad I didn't try the peach brew. I'm not usually fond of fruity beers because they tend to be too sweet and cloying. (Pete's Winter Ale, with a hint of raspberry, is a pleasant exception to the rule.) I also noticed that the menu was full of ales and not much else. I prefer beers you can't see through. The waiter mentioned to a group that came in after me that they "don't really have many dark beers right now". (In other words, they didn't have any. Don't lie or lead me to believe that you might, possibly, in an alternate universe, have something. This isn't Monty Python's Cheese Shop.)

The grilled chicken/chile/cheese sandwich I ordered was suitable. The chicken had a few charred marks, which implied it was freshly cooked, but the iceberg lettuce and plastic tomato slice were bland. The processed cheese slice melted from the heat of the chicken and slid off the sandwich, to congeal on the plate. The ridged potato chips (alternatives were French fries or potato salad) were the highlight of the meal (must have been store-bought).

I was there at mid-afternoon on a Saturday, definitely not the high time for customers. The guys at the bar were all around 50 years old, and they were engrossed in the horse race on TV. One of them was talking about what it was like to be a jockey. I couldn't tell if he was serious or putting them on because he's so used to dealing with short jokes. The couple at the table had their meals and beers, then asked for samples of two other beers, and took home a jug of beer and two take-out boxes of other food (not leftovers). Four men came in together while I was there, and each of them had to go to the bathroom. (What were they doing previously that they all had to go to the bathroom at the same time?) It was amusing for people-watchers, but certainly didn't explain why the servers took so long to get around to me. I shudder to think what the service must be like when the place is actually occupied, such as a Friday or Saturday night.

All in all, I might go back, but it would likely be with someone (rather than just me and a book), and I think it will end up all right if I go in with low expectations.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

When I took my banana peel out to my compost bucket after breakfast this morning, I admired the full moon (and wished a bit that we day people could enjoy it more often). When I got to work, the moon was very low in the sky, and it was orange!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sorry, but you don't exist.

I remember that, when we were trying to get my grandmother a passport to take her with us to England, the federal government didn't want to give her one because she didn't have a birth certificate. So sorry, but as none of us had a time machine or a TARDIS, we couldn't return to before the fire at the church where it was kept. (Lack of a birth certificate didn't keep the government from taxing her, though.)

Nowadays, computers make this hassle infinitely more complicated. We have a seasonal employee who did not receive his paycheck yesterday because, apparently, he doesn't work here. He provided appropriate documentation to the H.R. department. He appears on the paper timesheets (although I admit that did take a while to accomplish). However, the payroll office says he doesn't work here because he's not on the computer timesheets.

In addition, I tried to print a timesheet correction form for him for a date in April, to make sure his labor will be charged to a work order, so I can close the work order. The computer, though, says there's "no verified time on file" for the employee on that date. This, of course, is because the computer doesn't know he's been working here for a month already.

Remind me again why computers are so wonderful?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I always knew I was really a "problem child" at heart.

Your Score: Problem Plays

You scored 46% = Tragic, 52% = Comic, 20% = Romantic, 34% = Historic

You are the "Problem Plays!" The Problem Plays are a group of Shakespeare's plays that cannot be readily identified as either Tragedies or Comedies because they have an equal amount of both. The Problem Plays often present the protagonist with a situation that must be overcome, but after a toilsome journey, the hero almost always comes out on top! Often called "tragicomedies," the Problem Plays contain elements of dark psychological drama, light-hearted comedy, and a bit of romance. This means you are most likely a well-rounded individual with a perfect balance Tragedy, Romance, and Comedy in your life. While you may experience some hard times along the way, odds are you will fight through them and come out on top!

Link: The Which Shakespeare Play Are You? Test written by on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Your 15 minutes of fame have been postponed.

Well, I won't be on TV again any time soon. I wonder, though, if your 15 minutes has to come all at once, or can it be taken a minute at a time? And, does fame mean people around the world know your name, or just across your country, or can it be just local?

My first appearance on TV was during a high school football game. My parents bought season tickets because my brothers were in the marching band, so I had to sit through innumerable football games just to watch my brothers play at halftime. All games were taped and aired later on the school system's cable channel in our town. One day, we had the game on, and during a break in the game, there I was on the screen, walking down the steps to buy some popcorn. (This was thrilling for a kid in elementary school.)

Later TV appearances include the two district spelling bees, also shown on the school's channel. When I worked in Alabama, I was a guest on a daily morning show on that town's local cable channel. (The town was large enough to have a morning show of its own but so small that the new grounds manager at the university was big news.) Unfortunately, I didn't have the sense of mind to set my VCR beforehand.

Later, I was interviewed by a woman from the local public radio station. They were in the midst of a drought. (They had only 30 inches of rain that year.) Therefore, a grounds manager trained in the Chihuahuan Desert must be an expert at telling people how to keep their plants alive without water. I do have a cassette tape of that show.

For the most part, though, my media exposure seems to cast me in the role of "unnamed extra", so, yesterday, when the team from Aggie Almanac came to interview the owl lady, I figured I might appear in the background, digging to unearth one of the artificial burrows we have on campus. It was not to be, however, as no digging was required. However, I will let you guys know when the show is going to air, in case they have it available online as well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hunger Pangs

This question and answer were printed in the March 2008 issue of Men's Health magazine.

Q: Why do our stomachs rumble loudly when we're hungry?

A: You're referring to borborygmus. That's the medical term for the gurgling in your gut, which usually isn't a sign of hunger. Rather, it's your gastrointestinal system's housekeeping after your previous meal, says Sita Chokhavatia, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. A few hours after you eat, a 90-minute cycle of contractions -- the interdigestive phase -- moves any remaining bits of food from your stomach and your small intestine. Then the "migrating motor complex" noisily shuttles the mostly gas-and-fluid mixture onward. "It's like squeezing and shaking a balloon filled with water and air, " says Dr. Chokhavatia. If you need to stifle the sound in your stomach because of, say, a meeting or a date, munch some popcorn (for the insoluble fiber) or a piece of chocolate, which will immediately shift your GI system back into its quieter initial digestion mode.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that's true. In that case, I always thought I was hungry again three hours after eating my oatmeal for breakfast. Then I'd wait another hour for my protein bar, so I could eat halfway between breakfast and lunch. (Eight hours is a long time.)

Then, last week, I had a big lunch. I told Worker Bee that I'd have just a salad for dinner. When I got home, though, I thought I'd wait to see how long before I felt hungry again. It wasn't until 7 p.m., over six hours since I had eaten. Note: since that was less than my self-imposed deadline of not eating less than three hours before I go to bed, all I had was a handful of almonds and a glass of milk. I could have eaten that salad within my deadline but before lunch had left my stomach.

That got me pondering. We have been indoctrinated to think that, when your stomach rumbles, you are hungry, and you look for something to eat, when it is merely a signal that your stomach is empty. That means we have been conditioned always to have food in our stomachs, even if we don't need it. No wonder American society is so overweight.

Who has seen the wind?

I should have posted this before the weekend, because what I predicted came true. It was windy here on Monday (and yesterday, as well, but I didn't predict that part). The reason for the wind, I think, was that -- with the semester done on Friday and commencement on Saturday -- the town breathed a big sigh of relief that the students are gone.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Eight Pounds

That's my goal: to lose eight more pounds. When I reach that point, then I decide if I'm happy at that level or if I want or need to lose more.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What hath God wrought?

I signed up for a motorcycle safety certification class. Those of you who know my mother, please advise me how to break the news to her.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Those Who Forget History Are Condemned to Misspell It

I went to see the movie The Spiderwick Chronicles yesterday at the cheap theater. On the way in, I read the marquee for other movies showing at the theater. One was, supposedly, The Other Boylen Girl.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Shock and Awe

Ob has hired a part-time employee in his office (I guess I'll have to call her Thing Three) because he has absolutely no capacity for voice mail or tabulating data in spreadsheets or sending out the monthly billing. I met her yesterday, and her first words were, "My G_d! How tall are you?" After I told her, she said, "I guess you get that a lot, huh?"

Peas in a Pod

I harvested more peas yesterday. I don't like peas. However, it's fun to grow and harvest them.

The other day, I shelled my first harvest then tossed the pods in my leftover Chinese food. They actually tasted better than the leftovers. (The beef tasted like shrimp. I'll never order that dish again.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Oh, Lord, it's hard to be humble.

I don't usually accept compliments well, so it was quite out of character for me to feel a bit smug last night. I took two of my canvas bags to the supermarket last night, and I packed one so perfectly that there was no wasted space in it. The teenage boys that work there should kneel before my ability! (Of course, I am so much older than they are and have had years to perfect this talent.)

Then, add in the fact that I walked to the store, rather than burning hydrocarbons, and it won't surprise you that the title song got stuck in my head.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I picked up Chinese food for dinner on the way home from the gym last night. Naturally, the cashier gave me my change with the fewest bills and coins she could, but I realized that, with one simple substitution, I could have had a two-fer.

My change was $12.72. I received a ten dollar bill. If she had given me two fives, I could have had the following.

Two five dollar bills
Two one dollar bills
Two quarters
Two dimes
Two pennies

Asocial Butterfly

I actually went out and saw people this past weekend.

On Friday, before my weekly cheeseburger and fries, I walked the Downtown Mall with a friend from the gym and his girlfriend. The art galleries there hold an open house of sorts on the first Friday of every month. The gallery we all liked the most had photos and paintings that looked like photos. Some galleries had nothing but "What do you think this is?" paintings. One liked its paintings so much that, rather than charging a few hundred dollars for a piece, they charged a few thousand.

On Saturday, I went by the house of a former coworker and sat around and chatted over dinner with him and his room mates. I was there for several hours -- past my usual bedtime, even.

Last weekend, I accomplished things. This weekend, I visited people. What's going on with me? Maybe it's because we're actually having a spring this year (cool but not cold nights, warm but not hot days). When's summer going to arrive, so I can lock myself inside with the air conditioning and not go out again?

Monday, May 05, 2008

They should have called it HUH 300.

Pray tell what this has to do with horticulture.
The plant and environmental sciences department will offer a special topics class, HORT 300: "Practical Mapping of Environmental and Business Data,” (CRN:  38662, Section M03) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 18-20, in Gerald Thomas Hall, Room 338. The class will be taught by Adrian Unc and Randy Jeske.
The 1 unit class will use AWhere (spatial information software) to learn the process of mapping environmental and business data and will explore the practical benefits of geo-visualization and geo-analytics for interactive decision support.