Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1, 1, 2, 3...

A pattern emerges.

Monday night, I stayed up late to finish a book. When my alarm went off Tuesday morning, not only did it interrupt a dream, but I was so deep in slumber that I almost didn't hear it -- and then I reached toward the wrong side of the bed to turn it off.

I was dreaming about grocery shopping with my mom and sister. (I don't have a sister.) We were buying Cheez-It crackers because, in the dream, we could use the box tops to get polo shirts. (They were really nifty looking, too, with a black collar and cuffs and black undertones with muted purple or dark turquoise overtones.) What's really odd, though, is that my mom and I (my sister had scampered away to another part of the store) were eating the Cheez-It's out of the box while still in the store, which is something you will never see my mom, who is even more lawfully good than I, do.

Anyhoo, I stayed up late again last night to read. You guessed it: I was deep in sleep, nearly didn't hear this morning's alarm, reached toward the wrong side of the bed, and was dreaming about a store.

This time, I was at Walgreen's, although I was alone. While I was in the checkout line, a goldish black dragon entered the store and frightened the other customers. Being generally disposed to dragons (at least one particular species; see my 10/22/08 post, "All I need is a Boarhound"), I approached it. It didn't seem to be as friendly toward humans as my dragons, though, so I chose to be the brave and noble (and stupid) hero and lure it away from the other humans. The dragon seemed to be kind of nearsighted, as it was more likely to follow me if I threw things at it to get its attention. (Like I said: stupid.)

I wonder what the undercurrent of my life is that is making me think of aisles.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Playing Hooky

Thing One and Tweety approached me yesterday and said, "We took a vote. You're going home at 2:30 today." Office-sanctioned time off!

Well, when you consider I've been working 11-hour days since Thanksgiving and worked four hours or more on most Saturdays as well, what's a couple of hours for one afternoon?

The Winter Games

I haven't read during my lunch break the past few days. I discovered that our new computer support staff didn't remove the games from my computer when they installed it. I picture employees less responsible than me goofing off all over campus instead of working...

Plus, Thing One turned me on to a game called Elf Bowling. I'm not certain that computer support would appreciate me downloading it onto my machine, but what they don't know won't hurt me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Arnold Ziffel meets Twisted Sister

Happy Chinese New Year! Robomarkov provided me a link to the Chinese zodiac, which has one symbol per year for twelve years, rather than the typical zodiac, which has twelve symbols in one year.

In polite circles, I am a boar, but this particular web page calls me a pig. As with most horoscopes, some of it seems true, some is inaccurate, and some could apply to anyone. Let me know how much of this you think fits me.

Occupying the last position in the Chinese Zodiac, the 12th, the Pig symbolizes such character traits as diligence, compassion, and generosity. Pigs enjoy life and because they are entertaining, others enjoy their company. Pigs are giving souls and reap much enjoyment when they’re helping others, but sometimes they give too much. Honesty is what Pigs give and it’s what they expect to receive in return.

Pigs seek peace and will do what is necessary to maintain it. This trait, while admirable, sometimes makes it easy for others to take advantage of Pigs. Pigs are always doing for others, helping anyway they can, but rarely will they ask others for help. This can overwhelm and stress them, but Pigs don’t mind.

When it comes to money, Pigs enjoy spending more than saving. They gravitate towards name brand items. Thriftiness happens only occasionally, but Pigs do know how to find great deals.

Always seeking fun, Pigs often indulge more than they should. Excessive eating, drinking and smoking can cause sickness. Pigs aren’t very active and, combined with their excessive behaviors, cause them to gain weight. Pigs are social and being alone makes them unhappy. Pigs would benefit from adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Pigs enjoy helping at work and can always be counted on. They enjoy opportunities that allow them to express their creativity. Pigs are detail-oriented, a trait admired by management. Pigs aren’t afraid to take on responsibility. Some good career choices for Pigs include: entertainer, caterer, doctor, veterinarian, or interior decorator. They’d do well in retail or hospitality.

Supportive and giving, Pigs make great partners. They’re affectionate and sexual and prefer staying home to going out. They enjoy what they have, especially their home and family. Once they find the right partner, they’re typically committed for the long-term.

This particular web page also asks the year of your birth, so it enhances your sign with one of the five natural elements. I am a "metal pig".

Metal Pigs have a tough exterior, and this strength can be seen in all areas of life. They work diligently and love with all they have. They’re outspoken and trust others right away.

For some reason, I picture myself as a real pig with a wig like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, except with black hair, to contrast with my pink pig skin.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bridges are my mailbox.

There was good weather this weekend -- our third "warm snap" of the winter -- and, since I was in town for this one, I had another bike lesson with G.

She borrowed her niece's bike for me, and G, her daughter, and I rode the three mile trail from La Llorona Park to Mesilla and back. (Please note that the picture in the link was taken in the summer, when the river is full of irrigation water. On Saturday, I was savoring the irony of the "No Swimming" sign posted alongside what looked like mud flats.)

The distance wasn't a problem; I didn't get tired at all. (Hey! I have more stamina than an eight year old!) However, the bike seat, which was a little wider than a sewing needle, bore up into my bones. I figured that, having a well padded seat myself, I needn't worry. However, that seat managed to miss all of my padded areas and hit the very bottom of my pelvic bones (or the tops of my thigh bones; I never took anatomy). Every time I sit down, I feel as if I am bruised. When I got back into my car, I exclaimed, "Oh! That's good!" (I was kind of loud, but I don't think the people in the next car heard me.) I don't know anyone I'd be comfortable asking to take a look and tell me if I am indeed bruised. For that matter, I don't think anyone I know has the slightest interest in looking "where the sun don't shine" on me.

Fear not, loyal readers. Since this is a wheeled conveyance story by the Cap'n, you know it didn't pass without incident (nor injury).

The path meanders alongside the Rio Grande and has four bridges over irrigation canals, only one of which had water. (For the sake of my story, I count this as eight bridges: four each direction.) I had problems with just two of the eight. The good news is that I kind of scraped along the railing of one but managed to keep going. The better news is that I didn't actually hit the other one; I fell before reaching the bridge. (I suppose the great news is that I didn't fall into the canal, so none of you can pun that I'm "all wet".) My right forearm, which was covered by a sweatshirt sleeve, received a small scrape, and the left knee of my jeans now has a small tear. (This is why I wore my work jeans, which already had a small tear in the right knee, so at least they match now.)

This adventure confirmed that my bike riding problems are psychological. I think G astutely observed this before I did. She made me go back and renegotiate one of the bridges, coaching me how to approach it. She wouldn't let me get away with anything. (I suppose that's a hazard of asking someone's mother for help.) She then followed up with some steering advice. Balancing was easy. Pedaling was easy. Balancing and pedaling and steering was hard. Not chickening out and walking my bike over the bridge was hard. (Not remembering to use the handlebar controls to apply the brakes seems to be a theme with me.)

Do any of you remember the episode of Frasier where he and Niles learn how to ride bikes? (For the record, they were about ten years older than I am, so I'm not hopeless.) In that episode, Frasier's ego volunteers him for a cycling fundraiser, even though he can't ride a bike. Throughout the episode, the running gag (or riding gag, as it were), from his first lesson to ending credits, is Frasier riding his bike into a mailbox, as if they were magnetically attracted. I figure that these bridges are my mailbox.

I did, however, managed to avoid all the walkers, joggers, in-line skaters, dog walkers, and dogs (and their leashes). I just kept hoping that they'd stay on their side of the path and that I could manage to stay on mine. Then again, they probably assumed I knew what I was doing, just as I assumed the same about them. I wonder if there's a moral in there somewhere? Maybe it's like defensive driving; assume the others know what they're doing, but be prepared if they don't.

Maybe I can get a large "student biker" sign to put on my helmet the next time I go out, like those cars plastered with "student driver" magnets and stickers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Technically, Antarctica Is a Desert.

Still, you have to wonder why NMSU is launching balloons from a place permanently covered in snow.

The link above has a picture that doesn't begin to express the immense size of these balloons: seven million cubic feet, flying at 110,000 feet, for 100 days.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Suggestion for the President

The radio this morning said that President Obama intends to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center where "enemy combatants" are kept. The reporter went on to talk about "harsh" interrogation practices. Mr. President, I offer you two alternatives to waterboarding and other disputed methods (and these don't put the suspects in physical danger).

1) Chain the suspect to a chair and force him/her to watch infomercials with Billy Mays, the guy who always yells. If I race from another room to find the mute button on my remote control when he comes on the screen, imagine the information you could glean from people who are powerless to move! Of course, they might ending up gnawing off their limbs to be free of the shackles, but that's a self-inflicted injury, so it doesn't count.

2) Continuously play episodes or songs from Barney. I might even give up my mother if you did that to me. Unfortunately, the alternative is that the person might become a vegetable or even spontaneously die, but that's more socially acceptable than any "collateral damage" from warlike or terrorist attacks on civilians.

Gentle readers, can you suggest any others?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Of Mice and Men

We played Musical Chairs with some keyboards and monitors in the office today. When we plugged the mouse back into one of the computers, we discovered that it's not a mouse after all. It is a "human interface device".

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Did you expect, maybe, the Easter Bunny?

NMSU's Spring Convocation was held today. (To the best of my knowledge, a "convocation" is a speech by the university president, followed by awards and a lot of glad-handing.) Here's the official press release if you want to read the whole thing, but I'll cut to the chase.

Certain professorships are endowed (paid out of a permanent fund, usually named for the donor who gave the most money or for a former professor considered distinguished in his/her field). Six of them were awarded this morning, including this one, which I have excised from the press release. I think this particular honor comes as a surprise to no one.

John P. Loveland, in the Department of Management, was awarded the John P. Loveland Professorship in Quality Management.

Monday, January 12, 2009

There are two kinds of people in this world...

...those who understand computers, and those who don't. I, as I'm sure you've already guessed, am one of the latter. I had been pondering blogging about this topic before, but something this weekend brought the matter home.

One of my e-mail providers (yes, it does bother me that I have more than one) announced some time ago that it was "improving" its service by making it more intuitive. "No!" I yelled (yes, I actually yelled out loud), "I'm not intuitive."

When I was thirteen, I took the Myers-Briggs personality typing test as part of a graduate student's research. My score was INTJ. Ten years later, I took it again (the study observed if there was a change in me & the other test subjects, in an attempt to determine when one's type is set), and I was an ISTJ. My only change was from borderline intuitive to borderline sensing. In effect, I am not strong in either intuiting or sensing. Ergo, when the webmail changed, it became less useful to me.

My major complaint against anything by Microsoft (sorry, new subject) is that their software is designed to do certain things or operate a certain way, whether you want it to or not. Nine times out of ten, it's not what I want, and I end up cursing Microsoft and everyone that has fallen prey to them, including my employer and client, who both say, "Thou shalt use Excel and Word and Internet Explorer whether thou likest them or nay."

You would think that, as a very linear, logical person, I would adapt well to computers. After all, they follow commands they are told to follow. Ah, there's the rub. It's the people who program them that don't think the way I do.

Some time back, I clued in that, every time Worker Bee would try to train me how to do something new on a computer, we'd end up getting aggravated, and he'd say, "I'm better off doing it myself." I realized that he could anticipate and guess what to do (he liked experimenting and trying new programs), but I would stick with step-by-step procedures (if it doesn't come with instructions, don't give it to me).

This weekend, I was trying to follow his written instructions (it's a miracle that he even wrote them down) for how to enter a weekly report on our company's intranet, and I got stuck early on. He launched into a twenty-minute explanation of why we were doing it before I could get a word in edgewise and say my issue was with the instructions, not with the purpose. Thankfully, Thing One was there to moderate, and with her help, I realized that Worker Bee had assumed that anyone reading his instructions would make the same jumps that he had, and Worker Bee realized that someone learning a task for the first time needs a lot more detail than he who had been doing the task every week for more than five years.

You might have noticed an unusual statement I made earlier. Don't succumb to a stereotype and say, "Oh my gosh! He's a man, but he actually reads the instructions!" Instead, remember that I'm a person who loves to read.

Now give me the damn manual for life already.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Eat, Drink, and be Lazy

A friend happened to mention his weight to me yesterday. Before Christmas, I was just ten pounds heavier than him. (He must have more muscle.) Now, I'm afraid to weigh myself. I spent a week and a half eating more than usual, drinking a lot of soda, and not exercising. I'm not going near that scale at the gym for several weeks, until I think I've burned off all the calories I accumulated over the holidays.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You won't believe this...

...but I was stuck in traffic yesterday!

For half an hour!

In Las Cruces!

All right, so the circumstances explain it all, but it still sounds weird. There was a car wreck on the interstate, just north of an exit, so I couldn't get off the road. The reason I didn't see the accident ahead was because an overpass and a slight curve in the road obscured my view. In fact, I ended up in the wrong lane in the first place because I had moved over after seeing red, flashing lights on the wrong side of the highway. It took me 30 minutes to get from work to the gym, a trip that normally lasts 12.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Queen's English

From the daily Waste News e-mail...

Environmental words included in university´s ban list
Dec. 31 -- Environmental buzzwords are among those being targeted this time around in one university´s annual list of "Words to Be Banished from the Queen´s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness."

The annual list, published by Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., includes "green" and "going green" as well as "carbon footprint" and "carbon offsetting," the university reports.

The list, which has been issued each year since 1975, comes from thousands of nominations each year, the school said.

Other words to make the latest list include: "maverick," "staycation" and "bailout."

I have a suggestion. How about banishing the word "buzzword"?

It's Official...

... less than an hour back at work, and I already don't know what's going on.

1) We have a new employee.
2) Some of the seasonal employees, the ones whose last work day was in December ("seasonal", ya know?) returned.
3) They were not the seasonal employees I had heard rumors about returning.
4) The new employee says he already filled out his hiring paperwork.

When did this all happen? Did I get told not to return until today but, in the meantime, everyone else came in to work as usual? And, since I'm supposed to be covering for Worker Bee, Thing One, and Thing Two, wouldn't you think that Sub would deign to mention that we're hiring someone (not to mention interviewing candidates)?

Less than an hour back at work, and I'm already ticked off at Sub. What's so "new" about the year?

Feelin' Groovy

I'm back home after visiting my mother for Christmas.

While in Albuquerque, I noticed that some intersections have grooves cut in the asphalt, exactly like the ones I remember approaching toll booths (which, as far as I know, don't exist in New Mexico). I also observed that vehicle weights, combined with summer heat, have caused these grooves to flatten and begin filling in where the tires run over them most often.

We're scheduled to get red light cameras this month in Las Cruces. I don't know if the city is planning a similar pavement warning as in ABQ, but I would recommend against it. If they melt in ABQ, they most certainly will here, where it's, on average, ten degrees warmer on a given day.