Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, August 31, 2009


From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
mascot - 1881, from provincial Fr. mascotte "sorcerer's charm, 'faerie friend,' good luck piece," from Prov. mascoto "sorcery, fetish" (cf. Narbonnese manuscript, 1233, mascotto "procuress, enchantment, bewitchment in gambling"), from masco "witch," from O.Prov. masca, from M.L. masca "mask, specter, nightmare" (see mask). Popularized by Fr. composer Edmond Audran's 1880 operetta "Le Mascotte."

Huh. I always thought it was a toss-up between my mother's portable beds ("ma's cots") or my whiskey-making friends ("ma Scots").

The 9th grade football team played a team from Rhea County High School last week. If you look at the home page, you find out that they are the Golden Eagles. I would think that the rhea would be a more suitable mascot -- unless they were going for the mother of the Greek gods or one of Saturn's moons. (No, wait, you don't want a mascot for high schoolers to be a "moon"...)

It turns out that I was mispronouncing the name of the county. (I forgot I was in the South, where all "normal" rules are suspended.) Here in Tennessee, they pronounce it "ray". Just out of curiosity, I ought to ask how they pronounce the name of the town the school is in. It's spelled Evensville, but I suppose it could be said like "Evan".

For the record, McCallie's mascot is the Blue Tornado. (I really ought to go to a football game, if just to see what the costume looks like.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What TV Character Are You?

This isn't one of those stupidly entertaining blog quizzes. This is me realizing who two of my employees look like. One of them is the same height as Sherman Hemsley (i.e. short) and walks just like George Jefferson. Another one looks like the Cold Miser (except with less hair). Now I'll be lucky if I can look at them without laughing.

Update (9/2/09): I was informed by one of the other managers that the guy whom I replaced (who had requested a demotion and now works for me in an hourly role) is nicknamed Elmer Fudd. I wonder if I can find TV character names for everyone on staff. (It's a good thing I'm already Captain Chlorophyll, so I'm exempt from this endeavor.)

Oo! Oo!

When my alarm went off this morning, I was dreaming of delivering a kangaroo (a joey, not an adult) to the zoo. Throngs of people were lining the entrance to see me carry it in, in a soft-sided, shoebox-sized, blue nylon bag. As I progressed, the zipper on the bag opened bit by bit, so that the joey was a little more visible as I passed through the crowd.

The really weird part of this dream was that I was prancing (but gently, so as not to upset the kangaroo -- you don't want a kangaroo ticked off at you, even if it is a joey) and joyously singing the hymn "I'll Fly Away".

Me? Singing? Joyously? And prancing? Either this dream means something, or I need to see a doctor.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here there be fireflies.

Chattanooga is at the far western edge of the Eastern time zone. Las Cruces is near the eastern edge of the Mountain time zone. That's why it's lighter in the mornings there and lighter in the evenings here. The sun was up by 6:00 a.m. in Las Cruces, but I was starting my crew in the dark at the same time in Chattanooga. On the flip side, I was going to bed while it was still light in Chattanooga. Now, though, autumn is approaching, so it's nearly dark when I go to bed.

As such, I was delighted (no pun intended) last night when I was out late enough to see a firefly when I got home. It wasn't the first one I've seen this summer; I think the Night of No Brakes kept me up late enough to see several. I am pleased to be in a part of the country again with fireflies.

I don't care for other species of nocturnal insects as much. There is some sort of cricket that produces a high pitched, double chirp that sounds remarkably like the alarm system in my apartment. I got out of bed the other night to make sure it wasn't going to set itself off and discovered that it wasn't the alarm system at all. Then, of course, I was too awake to fall back asleep, and the chirping helped keep me awake -- and this was with the windows closed. Last night (this morning), I heard it again.

I'd lie on my desk to take a nap, but everyone manages to find me when I'm in my office. (One person likened it to "a moving target is harder to hit".)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fashion (non)Sense

The school has a dress code (see pp. 42-43 if you're really curious). There is a compliance officer stationed at the entrance to the dining hall. He's there to make sure shirts are buttoned and tucked in, caps are removed, etc. However, he missed a few things yesterday.

First off, half the kids need to go to the barber. It was kind of a 60's shag long, not hippies long, but still too long for the dress code. (Incidentally, my impression of today's teen fashion, according to the back-to-school clothes on sale in the Sunday newspaper ads, is that one's hair must look as if one just got out of bed, and one's clothing must have just been pulled out from under the tires of a tractor-trailer at a truck stop.)

Secondly, a tie and sneakers looks dumb, even if every other student is dressed the same way. Besides, most of those sneakers aren't truly leather or canvas, as required by the dress code. I saw one kid in sneakers that were lime green, black, and pink. (I don't want to know what store they came from because either I wouldn't shop there anyway because of our different tastes, or I couldn't afford to buy such fashionably expensive footwear.)

A tie and shorts looks even dumber, but seniors are allowed to wear shorts (unwritten). Another unwritten rule is that the pants must be khaki-colored. I saw all sorts of exceptions to this in the dining hall yesterday. I saw khaki, red, green, yellow, and even pink pants. If any boy had tried that at my school, he would have been laughed off of campus. (I would have been beaten up then laughed off campus.) One guy was wearing red pants and a yellow shirt. He looked like the New Mexico state flag.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Because I'm sure you all want to know how my phone is working.

You may recall (8/18/09) that my home telephone finally was connected. It appears to work fine; I can make and receive calls. In particular, I can receive telemarketing calls. They started just two days after my phone service. Since I can count on one hand the number of people to whom I gave my number, and since they are trusted family and friends, it must be the phone company who gave my number to all the yahoos that call just after I sit down to eat or right before I go to bed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Eat up before you go, and save your $$$ to get schnockered.

Weather was perfect for the fifteenth annual Southern Brewers' Festival yesterday: sunny with occasional clouds, low 80's, decent (for the natives) humidity, and a good breeze. I just wish there was someone to go with me. The place was crowded with several hundred 50-somethings and 20-somethings but only one me.

Let's do a little math. Say there were 12 breweries with, on average, three beers offered. That's 36 beers, at $3.00 per beer, which totals up to far more money, time, and alcohol than I can handle on my own. If eleven of you accompany me next year, we each can buy three and pass them around -- much more affordable with much less chance of alcohol poisoning. (Don't worry about drinking from my mug; it has been years since I had mono.) If there were 20 brewers (I was too busy not running into people to count), then 19 of you need to come along.

Robomarkov: Make this a family vacation. Scribe-Ari and the smalls can go to the Creative Discovery Museum just two blocks up the street while you and I get sloshed. Then she can drive us home.

Geosomin (if you're reading this): you and J would probably enjoy it. If you're ever in Chattanooga, look me up.

My one mistake was waiting until I arrived to eat. I saw a vendor called Fatstuff's with cheesesteaks for sale. It was all right, even with American cheese (they offered nacho cheese also, the blasphemers!). However, it most certainly was not worth the $8.00 they charged. I could have had two and two-third beers for that much money! Even my souvenir T-shirt ($10.00) was a better deal (and that was half the price of the one I bought at the Beach Boys concert at NMSU a few summers ago).

Oh yeah. I had Highland Brewing Company's oatmeal porter. It was good.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Nuboss said that a student group would pick up trash after last night's football game. I asked if he was sure, since school hasn't started yet. He was sure. Therefore, I was picking up trash at the stadium today, by myself, since no students were there.

It wasn't so bad. I got a souvenir plastic football, an old towel I can use to dry my car after washing it, a newspaper bag full of Coke product caps for my friend Gimpy, and $4.76.

Horrible Homonym

In N or M? by Agatha Christie, one of the characters says, "There's a kind of age-long humor about the chased male." Well, I don't find it very funny. Then again, I'm not being chas....

Uh-oh. Hang on a minute.

Here's my problem: I must have thought you said chaste.

That brings to mind the line by Dan Fielding on Night Court. "When you said you enjoy being chaste, I thought you meant around the sofa!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Simple Answer to a Simple Problem for a Simpleton

It has been about a week and a half since I brought my stuff from New Mexico, and I finally got my computer to work. I had hooked everything up -- nothing. I disconnected everything and tried it again in my office (where there are three-prong, grounded outlets) -- nothing. Finally, yesterday, I left work early so that I could call the help line during a time I was likely to speak with someone in my own time zone who speaks English as a first language. (Okay, so being fed up with work for the day helped, too.)

What the technician told me (which ended up being correct) was to check the power switch on the power supply on the back of the computer because it might have been switched off. "You don't mean the switch on the front of the computer?" No. "By 'power supply' you don't mean the power strip I plug the computer into?" No.

Hoo boy. I knew I was computer illiterate, but I had no idea that computers come with two power switches. (A fail-safe mechanism, I guess.) This is why mechanics will always be employed -- because some of us can drive cars and push lawn mowers and use computers but have absolutely no facility for repairing them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Campus E-mails.

My new location doesn't exactly have a typical work order system set up, so I don't have a list of amusing requests to share with you. However, the e-mail system does give me occasional smiles.

The computer guru sets up everyone's account with a "Community" folder and an "All" folder. Messages of importance that everyone should read (such as anything from the Headmaster) show up in my "All" folder. Non-essential messages to everyone (such as the update on an employee's heart surgery) get sent to the "Community" folder.

After we cut down a Cedrus deodara (Deodar Cedar), I posted a message to the Community that there are 15 logs available. I received six e-mails and nearly as many phone calls in three days. (Oddly, though, all the logs are still there.) Forty-eight hours ago, I mentioned that I'll be attending the Southern Brewers' Festival this weekend and asked if anyone else is going and would like to carpool. I have yet to receive a reply. Obviously, if it involves free wood, they're interested, but if they have to pay for their own beer, forget it.

This morning's e-mail brings the following. The toilet in the bathroom between offices 204 and 203 in the Park McCallie House is running and won't stop. It appears not to be the flapper but the refill shutoff. I played with it and can't get it to shut off. Ah, yes. I can see how a toilet jogging around the building could be an annoyance.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My karma ran over my dogma.

I admit freely that I've probably misused the word karma, since I know very little about non-Christian religions (It has been a long time since confirmation class.) and even less about philosophy (except that Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable). I just figure that I'm still paying for ticking off the campus phone service when I was a student.

Yesterday, the phone company finally gave me service, nearly a week later than promised. It turns out that the wrong wires had been connected in the box on the side of my apartment building. This is the second time in a row (verily, the second time in four years) this has happened. All the U.S. phone companies must be in collusion somehow.

There are few things more comforting than a parent's embrace or a dial tone.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One out of two ain't bad.

I found the "hoagie" place this weekend. (That's not the one; that's part of the two.) Note on the menu that none of their sandwiches actually contains official hoagie fixings. Note also that the menu does not warn customers that the sandwiches are served warmed up. At least I was warned in advance that I had to ask them not to put mayonnaise on my "hoagie". Finally, the sandwich I was served was an easy-to-consume, one-person serving, not a traditional hoagie that is so large that even one half is daunting. (The fries were okay, though.)

The successful venture this weekend was finding an authentic cheesesteak place (or at least a reasonable facsimile). Alas, Tubby's has no website to share with you, but what hole-in-the-wall worth its name does? (Interestingly, the outside appears to be a large, new building, but the inside looks like the establishment has been crammed in there for years.) I went there on a quest for a weekly hang-out burger joint. I didn't even try a burger; I dared to give the cheesesteak a chance. I was pleasantly surprised; it was almost good! The sandwich automatically comes with grilled bell peppers and onions -- and mayonnaise. (Is using mayonnaise inappropriately on sandwiches a Southern thing, or can I have these people arrested?) Not to mention I would need to order two to receive a serving closer to a true cheesesteak. (The jalapeno poppers were okay, though.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Unanswered Question of the Universe #29

If our knees bent the other way, would we walk in the same manner as we do now?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The South sucks. Really.

On my drive from Albuquerque to Chattanooga, I drove by Toad Suck Park in Arkansas.

Today, on the way to yet another restaurant in Chattanooga, I passed by Suck Creek Cycle shop.

Now you know what I mean.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hovel Sweet Hovel

The day Nuboss picked me up from the airport, he drove me around campus (and got me thoroughly confused) then brought me to the apartment where I would be living. It was unprepossessing, to say the least. Still, the rent is low, and I have a paycheck, so beggars can't be choosers.

Nuboss opened the door and shut off the alarm system. ("This dump has an alarm system?" I wondered to myself.) The living room has a dark, wooden floor and a long closet -- but there was no furniture and no door to the closet. The kitchen has new vinyl flooring, a new washer/dryer, and a new refrigerator. The stove (electric) is harvest gold, which tells you how old it is. The cabinets are cheap plywood with a honey colored finish and black handles that tell you how old they are. The countertop is a bluish green laminate with a metal edge, which confirms just how old the kitchen is. (Contrasted with the kitchen I left in Las Cruces, I was about ready to turn around and leave.) The bathroom is serviceable, but the tub is permanently stained. (Yes, a tub mat was one of the first things I bought.) The bedroom also has a wood floor and a large closet without a door. However, it had furniture: one, twin bed taken from one of the dorms.

"What do you think?" Nuboss asked me.

"May I have something to sit on?" was my reply.

Once I borrowed furniture from storage (in the building conveniently next door), the place is usable and habitable. Nothing matches, but let's call it eclectic. I found out I'll be allowed to take care of my yard, but I'm not going to do anything extravagant because it won't be kept up after I leave. My first tasks, actually, aren't planting flowers (even though that would be like trying to hide acne with makeup). First, I need to prune the tree branches so I can actually use the sidewalk, and I need to dig out those two old, tire "planters" a previous resident placed in the yard.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I noticed something when I started working here. Many of the male instructors or coaches are balding, so they follow the trend and have their hair cut very short or shaved off completely. There are so many of them, and I'm so confused with whose names I need to remember vs. whom I'll see once in a blue moon, I'll go out on a limb and say that all middle-aged, white men look the same to me.

People (at least coworkers) are very careful about the language they use if race or skin color is mentioned in a conversation. (Robomarkov's e-mails used to end with a sig. that read, "If anyone asks what race you are, tell them human.")

When I arrived here and asked where to go shopping, I was told, "Don't go across the street because that's where all the sirens are." Not a word about skin color or why crime tends to be higher in that part of the city, but a message came across nonetheless. "Go through the tunnel," was the subsequent sentence.

So I went through the tunnel and found my Family Dollar and my Food Lion and Bi-Lo and various restaurants all on a street called Brainerd Road, which appears to stretch to infinity (i.e. I've never driven far enough on that road to find the Wal-Mart that Nuboss insists is out there -- not that I ever shop at that particular chain if I can help it). I felt like the only white person in the store (as, indeed, I probably was), but no one looked at me strangely, and everyone was nice, and I had money, and, if I really needed to defend myself, I could use the "I'm new here and don't know any better" excuse.

Then, I experimented with the map and found Ringgold Road (that of the used bookstore and the bowling alley mentioned in my 7/27/09 post). At our daily managers' meeting, I was clued in to a quicker way to access that road: by going through another tunnel I didn't know existed. The fact that I saw two bowling alleys on it vs. no bowling alleys on Brainerd Road stuck in my head for some reason. The fact that our security chief recommended I go to a barber shop on that road stuck in my head. Then, after the meeting, when I was pulled aside and told, "That's what I meant when I was telling you to go through the tunnel," was my "Aha!" moment.

I'll go ahead and use the words no one else would. "You'll be more comfortable there because it's the white part of town."

Side note: I tried the Mexican restaurant on Ringgold Road on Sunday (1 down, 23 to go -- not counting Taco Bell). Even though there were Hispanic staff, and even though my waitress even had an accent, it was terribly bland. Was it like this because it was in "the white part of town"? Was it like this because, even with Hispanic staff, it's still in Tennessee? Is it because "Mexican" is truly different from "New Mexican"? (After 20 years, I still have trouble figuring that one out.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

My job is trying to kill me.

Rest assured, however, that I am well and healthy. I didn't post for over a week because I flew to New Mexico, picked up my car and numerous belongings, and drove back to Tennessee. (That's a post in itself.)

You may recall my Sat. 7/25/09 post where I related the tale of the car with no brakes. I have another chapter for what (unfortunately) may become an anthology of stories about my issues with autos. (That might be a good title for it.)

On Sat. 8/1/09, I had to be at the Chattanooga airport about 6:15 a.m. That's too early for everyone else I work with, so the night watchman at the school was delegated to drive me to the airport. He was as friendly as everyone is around here (and as talkative as so many Tenneseeans are), but he was a bit slow on the uptake. Maybe he was just tired as he approached the end of his night shift. Whatever the reason, when we got to the airport, he made a wrong turn, and we ended up driving the wrong way on an offramp from another road.

Don't worry. There was only one car headed for us.

Don't worry. It didn't hit us.

The rest of the past week was much better. :)