taco shop psychic
mincing is for garlic, not words...

Friday, May 31, 2002  

89. Acting Like a Coward.

My brother took me to see The Salton Sea last night, and it just reinforced to me that of all the pretty boy actors (that people try to dismiss because they are pretty boy actors) out there today, Val Kilmer is head and shoulders above the rest of them in terms of ability. I liked the movie in spite of it's Hollywood ending which I have seen other people bash in their reviews. Vincent D'Onofrio was stellar and extremely believable in his role. If you can still find it playing, go see it.

The movie is essentially about retribution and soul-searching after a moment of what might be (or might not) described as cowardice in the face of sheer terror.

The end of May has historically been a bad time in my life, and I tend to lay low through the whole period nowadays.

Three years ago yesterday, I woke up to find my poor old cat Archie unable to stand. I decided that she had suffered long enough and it was her time. The only problem was that if we took her to the veterinarian and they tried to save her, I could not afford to pay. She had been ill most of the time we had her and had grown increasingly incontinent. I probably shouldn't have feared for them trying to miraculously trying to save her. Truth be known, I couldn't really even afford the fee for the euthanasia procedure. So we hatched this plan and pulled Archie's collar off of her.

I went down and fetched my old blue coat and wrapped her up in it and we all went to the emergency vet, since that was the only one open. While we were waiting, Archie just laid there in my arms, seemingly not quite awake. I'm not even sure she knew she was a cat anymore, or who I was, or anything. I'd heard about the purring cats do when they're close to death, trying to assuage Death since they can't run or fight him anymore, and I was convinced I was now witnessing this first hand. We waited.

While we were waiting, a more serious case came in. A dog ran out in front of a car at Green Lake and the car driver rushed both the dog and his human down to the vet clinic. They tried but there was nothing to be done. The driver really did a great job consoling the fellow whose dog he'd just inadvertantly killed. I certainly wouldn't want to have been in his shoes.

So, when it was our turn, I got up and handed Archie over to the lady at the counter. And I told her she was a stray I had found in that condition.

It is the most cowardly thing I have ever done. I regret it every day.

posted by Tacoshop | 1:18 PM

Thursday, May 30, 2002  

88. Deep Philosophy.

I started this blog because I wanted an outlet to impart my deep and vast thoughts with the part of humanity that might listen. I had things to say, points to communicate, opinions to... opine. I am the type of person to consider things from all conceivable sides and render what I think are accurate personal judgments about issues that face the at-large global society. I've kind of gotten away from that a bit, but now I want to impart some of my deeper philosophies to you.

Let's start with Kraft Cheez-Whiz.

When you go to a store looking for Cheez-Whiz, what are you looking for? Are you looking for processed cheese spread or processed cheese sauce? When I want Cheez-Whiz, I want the stuff that you shoot out of the can onto crackers, sandwiches, walls, roommates, pets and/or relatives -- not the boring and listless school bus-yellow stuff in the jar. The problem is the stuff in the jar is Cheez-Whiz. The other stuff, the fun stuff, that's Kraft Easy Cheese.

Has it always been this way? Truth be known, I can't remember! It's like I seem to remember yellow cans with red writing on them proclaiming them to be Cheez-Whiz, but that memory is faded to the point of deja vu, giving me the impression that things were never thus and my memories are false ones. If my memory is correct, when did it change?

There are generations of people that are wandering around wondering about the collective mental capacity of their elders because of Kraft Easy Cheese! They know what we mean when we say we want Cheez-Whiz, but they've never seen Cheez-Whiz in a hip, happy and fun dispenser. To them, Cheez-Whiz is simply the brand that the old farts use when they mean Easy Cheese.

I wonder if this is also the cause of one of the great failings of commercial America; the lack of cheese-product-in-a-can in convenience stores across the nation. Does your favorite c-store carry Kraft Easy Cheese? Mine does not. How can this possibly be? Processed-cheese-in-a-can is one of the ten main ingredients to make a successful 7-Eleven. The others are beer, ice cream, candy bars, thirst-quenching and refreshing soda pop, Slurpees, potato chips, snack crackers, condoms and sometimes low-tech pr0n (the kind that's still printed on glossy paper).

I'm sorry, it should not be easier to find pr0n than Easy Cheese. I suspect what happened was that c-store owners across the nation. ordered Cheez-Whiz just like they always did and one day got Easy Cheese in it's place. They collectively wondered, "What the hell is this? Where's my Cheez-Whiz?!" and then didn't order any more because none of them knew what the hell it was.

Not that 7-Eleven is free from the mystical crap other than the Cheez-Whiz/Easy Cheese controversy. You ever buy fountain pop at a 7-Eleven? They've got Gulp (16 oz.), Big Gulp (32 oz.), Super Big Gulp (44 oz.) and Double Gulp (64 oz.). So it dawns on me one day that the Double Gulp is four times the volume of the Gulp. When it first hit me my first thought was, "How the hell can that be?" My second thought -- a metaquestion-- was, "Why am I the only person in the world that crap like this would occur to?"

Cheez-Whiz and Easy Cheese are trademarks and products of Kraft Foods.
Slurpee, Gulp, Big Gulp, Super Big Gulp, Double Gulp and 7-Eleven are trademarks of 7-Eleven, Inc.

posted by Tacoshop | 3:13 AM

Tuesday, May 28, 2002  

87. I'm a 'Tuesday Child'.

Tuesday Too is here.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:54 AM

86. About.

I'm about to make an About page, to make a few things clear about this here blog.

One of the things that I want to make clear for folks is how I add links at the bottom of the page. The bulk of the people's blogs or online journals I link to have left a comment here first. A few of them I genuinely stumbled on and liked immediately. The columnists at the very bottom, while further right on the political spectrum than I am, always seem to have something intelligent to say, whether I agree with them or not. With regards to the bloggers though, I don't care who they are, why they blog or whatever. For some reason, they came here and left a comment about something. I link to them mostly out of curiosity, so I can keep tabs on the kind of people that actually would come to this site and dialogue. If I ever find something I don't like to the extreme that I feel I should drop the link, don't worry, I'll drop the link. This is not to say that conflict over political views or whatever is bad, rather I am one of those weirdos that think conflict is inherently 'good', despite all the bad things that can come from it.

Another thing I want all of you to know is that I am frequently bored. So if you see a bunch of referrals to your site from here with all the same IP, well, that's me (as if you've all not figured that out).

The final thing is that I do give a damn about what all of you say on your blog. If I happen to see an entry on my site, or a series of entries on your site that particularly worry me (and being paranoid, I worry a lot), and then you drop off the face of the Earth for a few days, this can spur me into sending an email to check to see if you're all right. Yes, this is intrusive, and I know that. On the other hand, I've had training that says that some things like this can be 'warning signs' and that no matter how silly one feels, one should not ignore them. If I do this, or anything else for that matter, and it pisses you off, I'm sorry ahead of time. And if anyone does not want their link on my page, just let me know and I'll remove it.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:44 AM

85. Kitties.



posted by Tacoshop | 3:09 AM

Monday, May 27, 2002  

84. A Confession.

I'm guilty of most of these, at some time or other. I'm glad to say I'm not guilty of all of them, though, as some of them are very, well, inconsiderate.

(Taken from the KGB.)

Forty Ways Men Fail In Bed

1) NOT KISSING FIRST. Avoiding her lips and diving straight for the erogenous zones makes her feel like you're paying by the hour and trying to get your money's worth by cutting out nonessentials. A properly passionate kiss is the ultimate form of foreplay.

2) BLOWING TOO HARD IN HER EAR. Admit it, some kid at school told you girls love this. Well, there's a difference between being erotic and blowing as if you're trying to extinguish the candles on your 50th birthday cake. That hurts.

3) NOT SHAVING. You often forget you have a porcupine strapped to your chin which you rake repeatedly across your partner's face and thighs. When she turns her head from side to side, it's not passion, it's avoidance.

4) SQUEEZING HER BREAST. Most men act like a housewife testing a melon for ripeness when they get their hand on a pair. Stroke, caress, and smooth them.

5) BITING HER NIPPLES. Why do men fasten onto a woman's nipples, then clamp down like they're trying to deflate her body via her breasts? Nipples are highly sensitive. They can't stand up to chewing. Lick and suck them gently. Flicking your tongue across them is good. Pretending they're a doggie toy isn't.

6) TWIDDLING HER NIPPLES. Stop doing that thing where you twiddle the nipples between finger and thumb like you're trying to find a radio station in a hilly area. Focus on the whole breasts, not just the exclamation points.

7) IGNORING THE OTHER PARTS OF HER BODY. A woman is not a highway with just three turnoffs: Breastville East and West, and the Midtown Tunnel. There are vast areas of her body which you've ignored far too often as you go bombing straight into downtown Vagina. So start paying them some attention.

8) GETTING THE HAND TRAPPED. Poor manual dexterity in the underskirt region can result in tangled fingers and underpants. If you're going to be that aggressive, just ask her to take the damn things off.

9) LEAVING HER A LITTLE PRESENT. Condom disposal is the man's responsibility. You wore it, you store it.

10) ATTACKING THE CLITORIS. Direct pressure is very unpleasant, so gently rotate your fingers along side of the clitoris.

11) STOPPING FOR A BREAK. Women, unlike men, don't pick up where they left off. If you stop, they plummet back to square one very fast. If you can tell she's not there, keep going at all costs, numb jaw or not.

12) UNDRESSING HER AWKWARDLY. Women hate looking stupid, but stupid she will look when naked at the waist with a sweater stuck over her head. Unwrap her like an elegant present, not a kid's toy.

13) GIVING HER A WEDGIE DURING FOREPLAY. Stroking her gently through her panties can be very sexy. Pulling the material up between her thighs and yanking it back and forth is not.

14) BEING OBSESSED WITH THE VAGINA. Although most men can find the clitoris without maps, they still believe that the vagina is where it's all at. No sooner is your hand down there than you're trying to stuff stolen banknotes up a chimney. This is okay in principle, but if you're not careful, it can hurt - so don't get carried away. It's best to pay more attention to her clitoris and the exterior of her vagina at first, then gently slip a finger inside her and see if she likes it.

15) MASSAGING TOO ROUGHLY. You're attempting to give her a sensual, relaxing massage to get her in the mood. Hands and fingertips are okay; elbows and knees are not.

16) UNDRESSING PREMATURELY. Don't force the issue by stripping before she's at least made some move toward getting your stuff off, even if it's just undoing a couple of buttons.

17) TAKING YOUR PANTS OFF FIRST. A man in socks and underpants is a at his worst. Lose the socks first.

18) GOING TOO FAST. When you get to the penis-in-vagina situation, the worst thing you can do is pump away like an industrial power tool -she'll soon feel like an assembly-line worker made obsolete by your technology. Build up slowly, with clean, straight, regular thrusts.

19) GOING TOO HARD. If you bash your great triangular hip bones into her thigh or stomach, the pain is equal to two weeks of horseback riding concentrated into a few seconds.

20) COMING TOO SOON. Every man's fear. With reason. If you shoot before you see the whites of her eyes, make sure you have a backup plan to ensure her pleasure too.

21) NOT COMING SOON ENOUGH. It may appear to you that humping for an hour without climaxing is the mark of a sex god, but to her it's more likely the mark of a numb vagina. At least buy some intriguing wall hangings, so she has something to hold her interest while you're playing Marathon Man.

22) ASKING IF SHE HAS COME. You really ought to be able to tell. Most women make noise. But if you really don't know, don't ask.

23) PERFORMING ORAL SEX TOO GENTLY. Don't act like a giant cat at a saucer of milk. Get your whole mouth down there, and concentrate on gently rotating or flicking your tongue on her clitoris.

24) NUDGING HER HEAD DOWN. Men persist in doing this until she's eyeball-to-penis, hoping that it will lead very swiftly to mouth-to-penis. All women hate this. It's about three steps from being dragged to a cave by their hair. If you want her to use her mouth, use yours; try talking seductively to her.

25) NOT WARNING HER BEFORE YOU CLIMAX. Sperm tastes like sea water mixed with egg white. Not everybody likes it. When she's performing oral sex,warn her before you come so she can do what's necessary.

26) MOVING AROUND DURING FELLATIO. Don't thrust. She'll do all the moving during fellatio. You just lie there. And don't grab her head.

27) TAKING ETIQUETTE ADVICE FROM PORN MOVIES. In X-rated movies, women seem to love it when men ejaculate over them. In real life, it just means more laundry to do.

28) MAKING HER RIDE ON TOP FOR AGES. Asking her to be on top is fine. Lying there grunting while she does all the hard work is not. Caress her gently, so that she doesn't feel quite so much like the captain of a schooner. And let her have a rest.

29) ATTEMPTING ANAL SEX AND PRETENDING IT WAS AN ACCIDENT. This is how men earn a reputation for not being able to follow directions. If you want to put it there, ask her first. And don't think that being drunk is an excuse.

30) TAKING PICTURES. When a man says, "Can I take a photo of you?" she'll hear the words "__to show my buddies." At least let her have custody of them.

31) NOT BEING IMAGINATIVE ENOUGH. Imagination is anything from drawing patterns on her back to pouring honey on her and licking it off. Fruit, vegetables, ice and feathers are all handy props; hot candle wax and permanent dye are a no no.

32) SLAPPING YOUR STOMACH AGAINST HERS. There is no less erotic noise. It's as sexy as a belching contest.

33) ARRANGING HER IN STUPID POSES. If she wants to do advanced yoga in bed, fine, but unless she's a Romanian gymnast, don't get too ambitious. Ask yourself if you want a sexual partner with snapped hamstrings.

34) LOOKING FOR HER PROSTATE. Read this carefully: Anal stimulation feels good for men because they have a prostate. Women don't.

35) GIVING LOVE BITES. It is highly erotic to exert some gentle suction on the sides of the neck, if you do it carefully. No woman wants to have to wear turtlenecks and jaunty scarves for weeks on end.

36) BARKING INSTRUCTIONS. Don't shout encouragement like a coach with a megaphone. It's not a big turn-on.

37) TALKING DIRTY. It makes you sound like a lonely magazine editor calling a 1-900 line. If she likes nasty talk, she'll let you know.

38) NOT CARING WHETHER SHE COMES. You have to finish the job. Keep on trying until you get it right, and she might even do the same for you.

39) SQUASHING HER. Men generally weigh more than women, so if you lie on her a bit too heavily, she will turn blue.

40) THANKING HER. Never thank a woman for having sex with you. Your bedroom is not a soup kitchen.

posted by Tacoshop | 6:33 PM

83. Into the Fray With Ya!

I heartily encourage participation in Michele's current Question of the Day. I may have overdone it a bit with my answer, tho...

posted by Tacoshop | 1:33 PM

82. Ow.

I've been trying to get in shape and I may have overdone it and aggravated an injury I sustained in the Corps. Ow.

I might have to try something else.

posted by Tacoshop | 2:12 AM

Sunday, May 26, 2002  

81. Eight From the Eighties

I particularly enjoyed answering one of the questions in this one.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:01 AM

Saturday, May 25, 2002  

80. Just Skip This Entry, It's About Cats

I bought a bug zapper last night and hung it in the dining room. I'm sick of trying to chase houseflies through a house with thirteen foot ceilings. If I was Shaquille O'Neill, maybe, but I'm a smidge on the short side and I get frustrated at having to move the stepladder, swing, miss, move ladder, swing, miss, move ladder...

So I bought this bug zapper. I'm a guy, so I bought the biggest damn bug zapper I could find; "Effective coverage over one acre". Hell, yes! I hung it up in the room that would be the dining room. Our house is a bit strange, the dining room is the biggest in the house, and is where the cable feed runs to. I still have a few houseflies, but the comical part was my cat's reaction to it. Evidently, when she discovered this thing directly over where she sleeps, she had to come in to my girlfriend's room and bitch at her about it. She had to show my girlfriend this thing over her couch.

I can just picture the thoughts running through her mind.

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh! There's a UFO hovering over my bed! It's just hovering there! And it's killing all the bugs! Dear Bast, I'm gonna be next! Look at it! It's BLUE for crying out loud! I'm gonna get anal-probed by an alien vet! Aaaaaaahhhhhhh! Run for your lives!

Evidently she was so bitchy about it, the other upstairs cat, Spaz, wouldn't sleep in the same room with her last night. It's pretty sad when the most level-headed cat in the house is named 'Spaz'...

posted by Tacoshop | 2:52 PM

Thursday, May 23, 2002  

79. Thursday Threesome.

On things I never learned in school is here.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:57 AM

78. Permanent Address.

The military has a concept that never ever quite made sense to me; the 'Permanent Address'. I mean it does, but on some levels it seems kind of dumb.

Part of it lies within the confusion on what that designation is about. In the darkest sense, it's the very pragmatic place where they send notification that you've died or gone missing, especially if you're single. It's one of the first places they look if you've deserted your post. On the other hand, wherever you name as your permanent residence upon your entry to the military marks the furthest the government will ship your stuff for free when you leave. My advice for prospective enlistees? Get a P.O. Box on Christmas Island and try to claim that as your residence. It probably won't work though. I enlisted just before my twentieth birthday, and when I enlisted I used my parents' permanent address as my own. Not their address mind you, their permanent address, which was really my maternal grandparents' address in Northwest Wisconsin. I always thought this was a tad bizarre. Even without the permanent address, they had my next of kin's permanent address (same place), so I changed my permanent address to my actual address. This caused it's own host of problems as my permanent address was now my barracks room and this would cause mass consternation with anyone that was not familiar with my 'peculiar' thought processes.

I don't think they were too peculiar. I just couldn't justify naming a residence that I had last lived in when I was three months old as my 'permanent' residence. I certainly wasn't going 'back' there when I got out. Not a lot to go back to. I couldn't go back to any of the places I grew up, because I never felt a sense of belonging to any of them except for Frankfurt. I guess I could have returned there, but I think it would have been even more depressing than Frankfurt normally is because everything would have changed with the handover of the bases there. So when I got out of the military, I moved up here to Washington State, since that's where my dad retired from the military.

Now Mom and Dad live in Korea, and I'm their anchor to the world over here. My home address is their permanent address.

A lot of people have been blogging about the various concepts of 'home' recently: jf, jf again, Anand, Vignesh & -SF-, Leah, Jo-Ann, Bink, and Desiree have all commented on something regarding home, whether it's the dwelling itself, the place it's located, or the state of the community within. With the possible exceptions of one or two of them, all these monlogues and dialogues have to do with belonging.

I've lived in Seattle since 1997 and I don't feel I belong. This is not my town. The problem is, I'm not sure what is. I don't long for San Diego or Atlanta either, and those are the places I've spent the most time in (on this side of the Atlantic) after Seattle. I think this is the crux of the discussion the Indian bloggers I've mentioned are having -- essentially it seems that some of them feel that they can belong here as well as they can belong in India. That's certainly understandable to me, as I am considering applying for jobs in Stuttgart to support the military there in some civilian capacity, much as my parents are currently doing in Seoul. It's not that I like Germany better, it's just that after spending so many years there, I think it's where I belong. That's a big deal for me, as I've spent a third of my life in that country.

When I got out of boot camp in 1990, it was the first time I actually got to wander around on something that wasn't a military base in America in six years. Well, seven years, really, as I never really wandered around Petersburg the year we were stationed at Fort Lee. Talk about culture shock. I couldn't afford to go see my parents in Germany when I was on leave from boot camp, so I went to see my best friend. It was so disconcerting to look straight ahead and see a flat Michigan horizon rather than buildings or mountians. And the street addresses really made no sense to me whatsoever. I wound up walking most of the way to the next town looking for her address, which actually turned out to be one block in the opposite direction from my motel.

One of the reasons I enlisted was to get back to the States. Now I'm ready to leave again.

I guess I'm trying to say that it is possible to live in one place and belong to another.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:31 AM

Tuesday, May 21, 2002  

77. Tuesday Too.

Of quests, diversity, deviled eggs and death row. Here.

posted by Tacoshop | 10:42 AM

Monday, May 20, 2002  

76. Untitled Rambling.

It seems that my post on finding someone struck a chord with a lot of people. I've never gotten seven comments on anything before, not even the post where I droned on about the differences between the sexes when it came to blogging.

As it turns out, I'm not particularly happy with either post. It's easy to forget that people being people tend to share the same sorts of experiences and don't have a particular monopoly on any experience or emotion. I think that maybe the inability to put these kinds of things into the proper perspective is one of the causes of depression, but that's just my uneducated observation.

I'm adding a link to Leah and fixing the link to JoAnne.

One of the reasons I guess I'm not happy with that post is because I think that I could be missing something. Something about being nice. I used to be nice, once upon a time. I mean that I'm not 'not nice' now, I think, just that I used to be really nice.

Or was I just a doormat?

The year that I identify with the ending of the 'nice' period of my life coincides nicely with the time that I mostly gave up on the whole concept of tact. I got really fed up with tact when my higher-ups would deliberately misconstrue what I told them to cover their ass from their superiors. Usually this would also lead to whatever it was that I had concerns over to be buried rather than fixed.

So is my brother nice, or a doormat? And how do I tell the difference? Or maybe he's both. I dunno. I equate being nice with what other people associate with being a doormat, I guess. It seems to me that the act of 'getting your way' no matter what method you use is inherently un-nice. In other words, 'annoyingly polite' is still annoying. And if it's not being an annoyance that gets you what it is that you want it's some other thing. The bottom line is that often to get your way, you have to stunt someone else from getting their way. Is that nice?

posted by Tacoshop | 10:40 PM

Sunday, May 19, 2002  

75. I Got Nuthin'.

I called my best friend last night and I suppose I could blog about that, but I really don't want to make this into a broken-record blog.

I could write my opinions of the hounding of Bush over the pre-September intel reports, but quite frankly I don't really care.

I'm gonna go find an episode of 'Law and Order' somewhere, I guess. Or 'Homicide'. jf, why exactly was 'Homicide' set in Balto? Yaphet Kotto is one of the greatest underrated (by the vast majority of today's public, anyway) actors of all time, I'd wager.

Sean Bean is another. Watch most anything from Hollywood that has Sean Bean in it, and Sean Bean always gets the shaft (in Lord of the Rings he got three, to be precise). That's quite a shame, and I certainly hope that Clive Owen does not have the same luck. Mr. Owen, by the way, has my vote to be the next James Bond. A friend of mine debated this with me a while ago and we came up with the idea that maybe he would not be, but since Gosford Park, I'm thinking again that maybe he could pull it off. I think it would be a major shift in the portrayal of Bond, but quite frankly that seriously needs to happen.

posted by Tacoshop | 1:10 AM

Thursday, May 16, 2002  

74. Friday Five.

Is here.

posted by Tacoshop | 11:05 PM

Tuesday, May 14, 2002  

73. Tuesday Too.

Is here.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:23 AM

Monday, May 13, 2002  

72. Cosmic. Absolutely Cosmic, Man. Or Maybe That's 'Comic'...

So, today I was cruising my linked blogs down there, starting with jf as I always do and I saw her recent post regarding something called Turn Beauty Inside-Out Day, which is May 15th. My best friend, in case you've not been reading that long, is a redheaded female who I once had a thing with and still occasionally carry a torch for. That torch often dwarfs the one in Lady Liberty's hand in New York I fear -- it certainly gets to be quite a bear trying to carry it around as often as I seem to. I consider her to be quite a good-looking, nay a stunning beauty, although I can see (almost) why someone wouldn't agree with me. To put it another way, if you were to stand her next to her sister and told the average joe to go hit on one of them, he'd most likely go with her sister, who is the epitome of what modern culture considers beautiful. I fell into this same trap once as well, but quickly realized my error...

So TBIOD sounded interesting. Even more interesting is that it's on May 15th, my best friend's birthday. So I followed jf's link to blogsisters so that I could determine what TBIOD exactly is. I still don't know as I was sidetracked by a post that Anita, a person I recently linked to here, posted there on blogsisters. I chose to reply here as opposed to there because I feel like an interloper there. A cyberlech. A man.

Anita posted there that she found a self-help book and course going around that 'helps' men stop being nice, and she posted it in a way that seemed to say that this was a travesty, as the men most women really want are nice men. An astute woman named Elaine picked up on that it seemed to be a form of self-actualization for men, marketed well.

Another woman responded to Elaine's post with the assertion that you don't have to be mean to get what you want -- you can be nice. I'm not certain that I want to agree with that because I'm not certain that I agree with it. It very well could be that I just don't understand exactly what she's saying, but I digress.

On Friday, I picked my brother up in the van just as he was arriving home from school. I asked him about his day, and he said that he'd had a marvelous day. He met a girl on the bus within the last few days and that day, he'd gotten her phone number. You have no idea how happy I was. My brother is a twenty-year old, handsome (he got Dad's good looks), articulate and very nice guy. He reads Sartre, Camus and Dostoyevsky. For fun. They had a date to go see Spiderman on Saturday.

Well, his Saturday sucked. He called her to arrange time and her phone was off. He left a message, never returned. So he drank himself into oblivion that night because this girl is just another in a too-long list of women that have done the same thing or similar to him. He's never had a girlfriend, never had sex, or even kissed a girl as far as I know and this is not by his own choosing. He's twenty and will be twenty-one in six months. And he goes to school on a campus teeming with women that all seem to be disinterested in him or completely vacuous or both. Most often both.

I had a friend in the Corps. I knew him immediately after enlistment and ran into him again on Okinawa five years later. He is, quite frankly, the most physically fit man I've ever met. Model-quality rugged good looks, intelligence -- he was the package every man wished to be. Except he couldn't get a woman to notice him. Well, that's not quite true. He did get one to notice him. I'm not sure how he met her, but she was his ideal woman-type. I knew him well enough (I would not be alive today were it not for him, actually) that he'd described his ideal mate to me several times. So he had met this girl somewhere and they'd conversed via mail for a number of months and she seemed interested in him. That summer (1995) he paid for her weeklong vacation to Okinawa so she could visit him. She spent the time I was with them trying to seduce me, and she was not unobvious about it. I avoided her like the plague the last five days she was on island.

The reason I carry that torch for my best friend is because I was nice. Realistically, two things could have happened if our flings had turned into something larger, but the most likely one we think is that we would have wound up hating each other. And while I don't want that, I also don't want the situation I'm left with. I had numerous opportunities, and I realized each one was available at the time, and I deliberately chose to not pursue them. Several years since the last one, I can safely say that she is much happier with her lot than I am with mine, and I am not happy (in part because of that awful torch I need to lose), because I was nice.

It may be possible that a nice person can get what they want in love and life. I've lived on four continents and met thousands upon thousands of people, and I can reasonably say that I've never met that person, or if I did, it certainly wasn't made obvious to me. And now I get to watch my brother go through the frustration I went (through on a milder scale) when I was his age -- that of knowing that every woman I'm interested in is currently interested in someone else that is either abusive, ignorant or a crook.

Which is where the misogyny that I conceal inside me came from, and I certainly hope my brother never catches.

posted by Tacoshop | 5:39 PM

71. Surveillance Shopping

The QFCs in Seattle recently instituted a surveillance shopping program. For those of you not familiar, this is when the store makes you sign up for a 'membership card' to get discounts. The store gets to track everything you purchase, and allegedly will never disclose the information it gets from this program.

I can't stand these things. Well, that's not quite true -- I can't stand them when they pertain to grocery stores. I have a Petco PALS card, but you know, I could really care less how many people know I have a small zoo consisting of cats, dogs, parrots and a girlfriend (oops, my he-man misogynist side is showing).

So this evening my brother and I went to various QFCs and signed up several people we don't like for these cards. It's better, I think, than the old prank of signing people up for random magazine subscriptions. This way, two of my former coworkers are just going to wonder why they get excessive amounts of targeted QFC ads mailed to them for peanut butter, tampons and Oreo brand cookies.

Screw you, Kroger, and get your spies out of my pantry.

posted by Tacoshop | 5:42 AM

Friday, May 10, 2002  

70. Expanding My Horizons.

a. I've added links below to Bink, Anita and possibly I got the right one for Kittybaby. I'd like to tell you something about each of these folks, but as a Readme link at the bottom of Bink's page reminded me, no matter how much you read the blog, you'll never really know the body behind it.

b. I made a diet exception for this:

Broil chicken breasts for 20 minutes four or five inches from the heat source.

Take a lime or two, grate the peel into the bowl, scuffing off most of the dark green bit. Slice lime and squeeze juice into bowl with peel shavings. Discard used lime. Press two or three cloves of garlic into bowl. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to contents in bowl. Add a tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add half a teaspoon of dried thyme that's been crushed by a mortar and pestle.

After the twenty minutes is up, pull the chicken out of the oven, coat the meat with the mixture from the bowl, flip the meat over and coat that side. Chicken goes back in the oven for 5-20 minutes until done.

Very tasty. The house still smells good from last night. The inspiration for this recipe was found in the venerable classic Better Homes & Garden cookbook. I served it with Spanish Rice as the side dish and Sangria for a dessert drink.

posted by Tacoshop | 5:58 AM

69. Monday Mission.

Yes, it's Friday. But the answers are here.

posted by Tacoshop | 5:29 AM

Thursday, May 09, 2002  

68. Movie.

My brother bought two tix to the showing of Black Hawk Down that was showing on campus this evening. This film is ranked on IMDB's list of it's top 250 rated films at number 206. This is a grave injustice, as this film is hardly that good. My brother and I laughed at all the parts that the audience did not, and vice-versa. We were laughing at the stupid dialogue (my cat writes better -- the stupid cat that is, this script is beneath the writing abilities of my smarter cat) in all the scenes that did not involve anyone shooting anything. The remainder of the dialogue is interspersed liberally with the word 'fuck', so that was probably fairly true to life. The battle scenes actually showed glimpses of cinematic genius and showed how confusing and fucked up an operation like that one can get. It really made me wonder if Scott and Bruckheimer showed up to work drunk for all of the contextual scenes. If they showed up.

The parts that the audience found funny mystified me, as they mostly involved soldiers falling down while being shot at or three soldiers being separated from the main force trying to find their way to them. If this was designed as comic relief, it ought not to have been. Being deaf in a war zone is singularly unfunny.

For the care that the makers of this film took to show some authenticity regarding the actions and settings of Somalia and Somalis, they sure got some things horribly wrong. Mogadishu in 1993 had no source of electricity, and no way to transmit the electricity if it did, as all of the power lines had been yanked down long before we got there. Given this fact, I find it highly unlikely that anyone warned anyone of anything by cell phone, as cell phones require not only electricity to run cell phone retransmission towers, but also cell phone retransmission towers, a phone company, and the necessary infrastructure to run that. Mogadishu had none of these.

I give it a five of ten, and that's being charitable and allowing for artistic license.

posted by Tacoshop | 3:38 AM

Wednesday, May 08, 2002  

67. Further Miscellany...

a. I noticed that there were a too many 'staff sergeants' in 65b., so I tried to give initials to the ones I remembered to distinguish them. There are a total of four, one I worked with, one I did details for around Camp Courtney and two that worked at the mess hall, just so you can keep my cast of characters straight in your mind.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:45 AM

66. Miscellany...

a. I've not been posting because I'm trying to recover from a rather serious bout of depression. I've been watching endless reruns of Law & Order and playing excessive amounts of video games. It keeps me from drinking, which is dangerous for me to get back into.

b. I think our pulling out of the International Criminal Court is a good thing. Yes, it does suck that we feel we can't submit ourselves to that body, but it should be obvious that we cannot. I heard a commentary on NPR today regarding this where the commentator, a lawyer from Dallas, opined that we should look forward to the consequences of our actions on the world stage. It seems that the people that make this argument do not look forward to the effects of our ratifying it. American ratification of the treaty would lead to more unilateralism, not less. We would be so hesitant to commit troops to any conflict or peacekeeping operation that our current allies have no stomach to do themselves. It could even culminate in the reduction of most of our overseas force. America would then truly become a fortress, which seems to be what the world speaks up against when we discuss things like NMD.

posted by Tacoshop | 2:26 AM

65b. Part II

I left off after explaining the way that the Corps gives periodical personnel ratings. I'll bet you're wondering what that has to do with anything.

Something the Marine Corps prides itself on is it's non-commissioned officer ranks. By and large, the Corps likes to assert that being a sergeant in the Corps is a greater responsibility than it would be if you were a sergeant in the Air Force or the Army, as these services have devalued the rank over the last several decades. This has occured to some extent in the Corps as well, and one of the great laments many people of any rank seem to have is that they wish they had more responsibility. It's something I recall hearing a member of every rank airing -- that in the 'old Corps' they would have had more power, recognition, and responsibility.

My response to this was always the same: if you want the responsibility, you should take it. I was very good at taking responsibility. The problem with that is that it has become so ingrained in the culture that you can only accomplish just so much at any particular rank. I liked to flaunt this unwritten rule as much as possible, but this time it caught up to me.

My captain up and decided he didn't want to be a Marine anymore. We never found out why, and suspected that there was something behind it, but he wasn't telling. He resigned his commission, to take effect something like two months hence. About a month after that, he dropped an assignment on my lap. It was something that someone of my experience and talent could handle. In fact, it should have been a no-brainer. Should have been.

We were having some special equipment installed that would give us some pretty nifty increases in communication. To do this, we needed to donate a room, which would have all the walls, ceiling and floor torn out and would get completely rebuilt. I had to pick the contractors up at Naha International and get them to their hotel, a rental car and whatnot. Effectively, I was to be their liaison. Sounded easy, no problem.

I picked the guys up at the airport, got them in the skinny hotel up the road from Camp Courtney and the following morning picked them up and got them a rental. Everything is going smashingly at this point. I take them to the headquarters building, where they are to work, show them the toolkit that was sent ahead for them, show them around, meet and greet everyone. They were all really impressed and had but one question.

"So, where's our dumpster?"

Bwa? Nobody told me about a dumpster.

"Oh yeah, dumpster. We're supposed to have this, that and the other, all of which you seem to have provided, but we need a dumpster to put all the stuff we have to tear out of the room into." That's paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea.

So, I went to the outgoing captain, my soon-to-be ex-boss, and asked about the dumpster.

“Dumpster? Dumpster? Oh, yeah… I remember something about a dumpster. Staff Sergeant W. and I looked into the dumpster thing.”


“Well, at the time we decided that it was just too hard and that we would get back to it. We just kind of forgot to get back to it…” He continued to pack his desk.

Hmm…I’ve gotten a bunch of things at this point in my enlistment, but I’ve never sourced anything close to a dumpster. How hard can it be? I tried to go through my section command, but none of them had a clue about getting a dumpster. I went to three different levels of supply, my company headquarters, my battalion headquarters, my group headquarters. Garbage was piling up, they’d ripped out most of the walls by this point. I finally found someone that would give me a dumpster. Aha! Now only one problem…

I needed some way to pay for it. Even in the government, nothing is ever free. If you want something, you’ve got to get an account number that is going to cover the expense. I didn’t have one of those.

So, I went around to the exact same people that I had just seen and tried to get an account number. No luck. So, the contractors wanted to know what to do with the rapidly piling up detritus from this room. I made a command decision and told them to pile it up against the side of the headquarters building where everyone would see it.

So, I went to see a guy I had worked for on various details around the base. He was the guy that made sure the grass on the base was green, made arrangements to have everything painted when it needed it, even contracted to have things like roads fixed, if they required it.

So I went to visit him, and he asks me to sit down and tell him what I could do for him.

“Staff Sergeant F., you’re going to laugh.”

“Oh come now, devil dog, I’d never laugh at any problem any Marine brings to me.”

“No, Staff Sergeant F., this is genuinely funny, and you’re going to laugh.” At this point, I thought he was getting the wrong idea – that for some reason, I was conveying something personal. He tried to allay my fears again that he would not find whatever my problem was mirthful in the slightest. So I laid it on him.

“Staff Sergeant, I need something desperately and I think you’re the only person left that can get it for me.”

“And that is?”

“Staff Sergeant, I need a dumpster.”

He laughed. He laughed hard. Midway through his second guffaw, he realized he was laughing, like he said he would not. When he somewhat sheepishly composed himself, I started to laugh.

Well, Staff Sergeant F. did not have a dumpster. But he did get farther than anyone else. He gave me three passes to the Okinawa dump. Well, this wasn’t ideal, but it was something. My next door neighbor in the barracks was the motor transport dispatcher. I got a truck and that afternoon took the first load to the dump.

But by that point, the higher-ups in the section who were unable or unwilling to help obtain a dumpster were already calling me and bitching about the debris on the side of the building.

Five minutes after the Tuesday command staff meeting, I had already received four phone calls regarding this problem. My answer to each one was, “get me a dumpster”.

Nobody got me a dumpster.

The general that worked in the building was on a trip elsewhere. Wednesday morning, he returned to find a pile of room on the east side of his building, and he was not pleased. Shit rolls downhill, and he promptly talked to the colonel in charge of the section, and, well…you get the idea. More phone calls. I used the phone to connect to the internet and surfed telnet and ftp sites until the afternoon, when I took the second load of debris to the dump. To add to the fun of this whole process, this was the load that contained the fiberglass insulation that had formerly been in the room. I itched for days, and breathing really sucked for several hours into Wednesday evening.

Thursday. Phone calls. After telling the first dozen or so people that called me to find me a dumpster, I unplugged the phone and threw it away. My boss, Jerry Engelhaupt, retrieved it from the trash. Someone later that day came to find me to tell me that I was to report, yet again for the umpteenth time this week to have my ass chewed out by someone new. I went up the hill, defended my actions when I could and repeated my mantra of, “Dumpster. Dumpster. Dumpster.”

One of the Gunnery Sergeants in my section asked my why I was putting up with all this treatment. I certainly had the option of telling everybody that I was just a lowly corporal and that this was clearly beyond the scope of anyone of my rank. I told him that this was the thing that all the noncoms in the Corps wanted and were afraid to take. This is responsibility, and this is the price that you occasionally pay for responsibility.

But at least the contractors had noticed what was going on and cut me a break. They made sure they were done with the room by the end of Thursday as opposed to Friday, like they had planned earlier.

I didn’t make a lot of friends within my command as a result of this week, and since a signifigant part of them were fairly new, this was not a good thing. After that, whenever a work detail came up, my name was always mysteriously on it. And someone exacted revenge in a big way a couple of months later.

In October, I was assigned to mess duty. Mess duty sucks. Mess duty is a month of hell where you go work at the mess hall and help the cooks prepare food for all the personnel on base. Usually, when you’re a corporal assigned to mess duty, as I was, you’re assigned to man the front doors and make sure everyone signs in, so they can effectively count how many people ate there that day. That, however, is a separate assignment from the guys who work in the kitchen.

So, when I reported to the messy part of mess duty, as a corporal, it raised a lot of eyebrows. I was called on the carpet by the staff that ran the mess hall, a master sergeant and two staff sergeants, who were wanting to know why.

They asked me what unit I was from, why we didn’t send any non-rates (a nautical term referring to ranks below corporal in the Marine Corps or petty officer in the Navy). They grilled me every which way. I’ve been grilled by better than common cooks, however, so their heat didn’t get to me. But this was the best question of the day.

“What are your proficiency and conduct marks, Corporal?”

I wished I’d had a camera. They left the office wondering why someone with 4.9/4.9 marks and more seniority than practically any corporal on Camp Courtney.

It was easily my worst month in the Marine Corps, aside from boot camp. It wasn’t too bad for the first couple of weeks, but the master sergeant was rotating back to California and his slightly overzealous and under-experienced staff sergeants were taking over and things were going downhill fast. I’d had to deal with people arriving late, drunk, or trying to pick fights with the cooks. The hours were long and hard, and each messman only had a day off a week, alternating between Saturday and Sunday. Work hours were usually from four a.m. (sometimes as early as two a.m.) to as late as eight p.m. (sometimes as late as ten p.m.) and you had to be there for the duration. If it’s any indication how rare it is for any corporal to be in this position, every cook on the premises had mistaken me for one of them. I was asked for cooking advice by some of the junior corporal cooks on several occasions. It was designed to be a degrading and humiliating assignment, and it was.

And it made me so damn mad. After I got off of work every night, I’d have to have a beer or six to calm down, and I’m not one for drink, at least I wasn’t at that point in my life.

Three weeks into the month, the master sergeant left. On his final formation, he told us what a great crew of messmen we were. He said that he didn’t know if it was because of the presence of a corporal as a messman, but he expected that’s why he hadn’t been bothered with some sort of disciplinary action by any of us and that maybe that’s the way all mess halls should be in the future.

It was easily the best compliment I ever received during my enlistment. I was floored.

What he didn’t know was that there were more problems than a stick could be shaken at. At one point, it got so bad that the majority of the cooks and messmen wouldn’t speak to each other and everyone pointed fingers at each other for a rather expensive cooking utensil that fell off a tray and broke. The two staff sergeants were so mad that they actually threatened to break pieces on the messmen if anything else turned up broken. He didn’t know that I almost tossed one of the staff sergeants through the plate glass window leading to the kitchen because I don’t like being threatened.

And that’s the problem with red tape. I never did recover the stature I once had within the unit.

And two months later, I left that command with 4.7/4.6 pros and cons -- because they were happy to be rid of me.

Three months after that, I was driving to Olympia, a free man.

posted by Tacoshop | 1:18 AM

Friday, May 03, 2002  

65. The Story I Owe.

The Marine Corps gives proficiency and conduct ratings every six months. Some units do them more often, but these tend to be either used as leadership excercises for junior non-commissioned officers to practice rating their junior personnel. When this happens, the scores are given monthly and amalgamated at the end of the biannum into the scores that the unit sends on the particular Marine to HQMC. Other units just do away with the monthly ritual as they have better things to do with their Marines' time than administrative training.

Proficiency and conduct are rated on the same scale, where 5.0 is the maximum. I don't know what the minimum is, as it is rare for any Marine to score less than 4.0 in either proficiency or conduct. When the scores submitted to HQMC are less than 4.0, there is supposed to be an accompanying documentation as to why. Essentially, this means that if the Marine is not holding the standard of 4.0, it should be because he's been charged with something or is about to be thrown out of the service for his or her transgressions. Likewise, if scores of 5.0 in either proficiency or conduct are tendered to HQMC, supporting documentation must accompany them. For all intents and purposes, this results in the bulk of proficiency and conduct marks a Marine can receive being limited to 4.0 to 4.9. If I recall correctly, the standard was that 4.4 was to be considered average. Marines of a particular grade were to be graded against their peers and the whole lot of them were to form a bell curve.

For reasons that escape me, you could be extremely proficient in your duties and be a lousy person and your pros and cons would not be more than .1 from each other, usually at the low end of the spectrum. Being a stalwart Marine is at least part proficiency, after all. Even though there are standards of what qualities go into what marks, they wind up being largely subjective anyway. Even though most Marines I knew regularly received marks within .1 of each other, I quite frequently defied the norm with marks such as 4.8 proficiency and 4.4 conduct or something akin to that.

In my enlistment I effectively was stationed at two units, not counting boot camp and schooling. I was at the first one for three years and the other for one. It was when I left my first unit that I got my highest proficiency and conduct marks to that date; they gave me 4.7/4.6 because they were so happy to be rid of me. Quite frankly, I had no business earning a 4.6 in conduct, and it was indeed a gift. My first sergeant, upon my departure, had informed me as to how he had come to those marks. He took what he thought I deserved, 4.9/4.4 (which is so bizarre an occurance, it would raise many eyebrows when I checked in to my new unit) and traded some of the proficiency for conduct.

Another bizarre occurance with pros and cons is that typically as you get higher in command level, the marks get inflated. My second unit was a major command. I checked into this unit and found an interesting work environment. I worked for the intelligence section and of all the sections in this command, I was the only one that did what I did.

The first six months were my halcyon days of the Corps. They were what I expected being a Marine should be about. The unit was supportive and meshed well together. Midway through that year, I could not imagine how things could get better. I had a lot of responsibility and was looked on with favor. For my actions during an exercise, I was even put in for a medal, the only such time this happened in my enlistment. I did not get the medal, but it did come through as a Certificate of Commendation; almost as good. The general that ran the command even knew who I was from this exercise, and I think had the medal write-up come across his desk instead of his successor's, I would have gotten it instead of the CertCom. Such is life.

Because of all this and the fact that I effectively had no peers, I was awarded (my opinion, and I did protest them) somewhat inflated marks of 4.9/4.9. And then it all went to hell.

The military is a constantly changing environment. Between June and August of that year, we had a new lieutenant running the subsection I worked for; a new colonel running the section and a new general running the whole shebang. By the time I left in December, I had major run-ins with all three, all for the same incident.

I was widely regarded by most everyone who knew me as one of the best scrounges in the business. I could lay my hands on virtually anything I could ever possibly need by begging, trading, and sometimes outright theft. I was good, and I owe it to the fact that I knew the way the government's supply system worked -- my old man was in supply in the Army for a long time, and my mother is in contracting, also for the Army.

It's taken me two hours to get to this point and I need a break. The story is about a third to half done at this point.

posted by Tacoshop | 2:21 AM