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

Wednesday, July 31, 2002  

161. Test.

It seems blogspot has crapped the bed. This is a test to see if my blog comes back from hitting the 'publish' button.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:32 PM

Tuesday, July 30, 2002  

160. Two Rants. No, Make That Three.

Okay, the first rant is a real rant. The second and third rants are for comedic relief.

So I went for the worker retraining thing at North Seattle Community College today. It was a colossal waste of time. One of the three presenters -- the one that can tell you if you're even eligible -- was out sick. If I want to know if I can even participate, I have to go again next week. I don't know why they even bothered having it.

Even then, the things they told us seemed at times to be contradictory. One thing I did learn is that all the retraining programs are different. North is actually trying to shove people into the computer science industry. I mentioned this, and they asked if I held any certifications. I of course said no, which they somewhat inferred was that this was all the difference in the world.

I used to hire people in this industry. The very first thing I did with a resume with a certification was roundfile it. I, no joke, recommended for hire (since we always hired by committee) people with no experience over people with certifications each and every time we had a hiring cycle. I know this happens a lot. They did not seem receptive to the notion that if they trained and certified a bunch of workers for the computer industry, they would simply wind up with certified unemployed workers.

The other rant is about language.

"I speak English, not American." Because I spell it organize, curb and color, I am somehow not using English, by some people's standards (*cough*Sarah*cough*). Okay, fine. Just so that if you differentiate between 'American' and English, ensure you have 'Australian' and 'Indian' and 'Canadian' as well, eh.

Germany is the size of Texas, and the differences in German between say, Hannover and Munich are staggering. My German teacher in high school told us that the language in Bayern (Bavaria) was fully one-third out of synch with Hoch Deutsch -- the German spoken in and around Hannover and used in government and in the media. Up to one in three words are different, not just spelled in some other fashion. Yet somehow, it's all German.

I really hate being brought down to Earth. When the stupid kids that afflict America perennially, generation after generation, finally grow up, where do they all go? Flipping through the radio dial today, one of the radio stations was giving away tickets to a concert it is holding in Wild Waves (I almost typed that Wild Wives -- now there's an idea for an amusement park) down in Federal Way. The tickets were to be given to the first person that could spell 'Federal Way'. I don't know if he ever found anyone. He had to go to commercial. Good grief. Are we sure we have a 97% literacy rate in this country? Really? Some of the ones I heard were, 'Feddral', 'Fid..' (he stopped her there) and 'Federall'. None of the people attempted to spell 'Way'.

posted by Tacoshop | 5:33 PM

159. Mommy?

Do stupid people go to heaven?

posted by Tacoshop | 1:45 PM

158 Toosday Tue.

Back to bed for me now.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:14 AM

Monday, July 29, 2002  

157. Just On the Off-Chance...

jf is reporting a derailment of a major passenger train on the eastern seaboard. If you have friends or loved-ones that regularly commute this route and need to get information on it, jf has the info you need posted here.

posted by Tacoshop | 2:19 PM

156. Anita.

This is a comment Anita left in my 'Compartments' post, number 146:

I have two questions: Does your girlfriend and best friend read your blog?

If Wilma, changes her mind and says 'Let's get back together today' would you drop your current gf and rush back to her?

1.) Yes, my best friend does. I suspect my girlfriend does as well, but I have no real proof of that, and if she does, she does it infrequently.
2.) No. But that answer by itself is a bit disingenous. With things the way they are right now, with my gf not holding a job and attending a correspondence school to get her high school diploma (she quit school and ran away from home when she was thirteen) I could never leave her in the lurch and Wilma knows this.

Even then, I would need to know her motives were (more or less) pure. This scenario has kind of manifested itself before (but never in those explicit terms), when I did not have a girlfriend. As attractive as the situations were at the time, I resisted (almost) all of them because I thought if Wilma and I had entered into a different phase of our relationship at those times that she would be doing so for all the wrong reasons. Not to mention that I'm not exactly the most emotionally stable person in the world.

As much as the Hyde part of me would desire our friendship to alchemically morph into something different, the overriding concern through the years has been the maintaining of our friendship. This has not always been easy, and one of the worst periods we went through is attributable to a time when a similar scenario to the one in your question actually happened. It was a particularly devastating year for us and we hurt each other pretty badly. In fact, I had thought the hurt was long gone, but a relatively recent conversation we had (this was in November) made me realize that I have not yet quite shut the door on this episode of our lives. (As a side note, I am shopping for a new eau de Cologne, if any of you have any input, I'd appreciate it -- keep in mind however that I'm picky and I don't want anything too strong, too popular or that smells like soap.)

I spoke in that previous post about music that we had shared at the time now causing me to cringe or flip the dial whenever I encounter it now. There is also another type of music that reminds me of her that I don't change the station on (but I may cringe a bit when I hear it), and that's music that has to do with loss. I am trying really hard to not run out and buy Dirty Vegas' CD that has the Time Goes By song on it. Although I've only heard the snippet of the song that is in the Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial, the part I have heard really rather reminds me of, well, me. I've been toying with assembling a collection of this modern music but I resist because I don't want, in a fit of madness and/or pique, to be in a position to send her a copy and show her how neurotic I really am. That would be very typical of me.

Also I need to expound on the 'marriage at age X if we're still both single' thing a bit. One of the things that led me to think it was a good idea at the time to suggest this was that I didn't necessarily want her to actually start a household with me. This is going to sound really bizarre (it probably is really bizarre, who am I kidding) but I don't necessarily need her fidelity in marriage. I don't even need her to live with me or vice-versa. It seemed (at the time, keep in mind I am continuing to disabuse myself of this idea) that it would be the next logical procession for such a deep, deep friendship that has lasted for so long. Our conversations often go past the realm of where I think two best friends who, say, have never had sex with each other (and I would imagine that since most people seem to have best friends that are the same sex they are and are heterosexual that this doesn't come up too often) would go and the only other woman in the world I would consider having such a conversation with is my girlfriend. All that being said, it occurs to me in a nagging sort of way that this would in effect make her a weird sort of trophy wife.

In the realm of really, really off the wall bizarre things that I think about, I think that if I were say, on my deathbed and I had my affairs in order and something to leave behind, I would want her to marry me right there in the hospital so I know that I could at least give her some comfort in my passing, even if it was just logistical. This screwball delusion assumes no gf in the picture however. If my gf was still in the picture, I would naturally do this for her first. I do love my gf a whole bunch. I just don't lover her as much as I love Wilma, and although the types of love I feel for these women are vastly different, I think I have failed my gf because of this. Ergo, this is why I am encouraging her life to renew with me not in it, or more accurately, with me not in a central role.

You may wonder where I get such things to pop into my head, but one of my favorite columnists is the late and great Lewis Grizzard, and he did this. He married his fourth and final wife something like three days before his death to ease the transition of his estate to her. I think that it was a noble decision simply through it's practicality, and his hero status in my eyes only grew because of it.

posted by Tacoshop | 10:25 AM

Sunday, July 28, 2002  

155. Another One Bites the Dust.

Qwest used questionable accounting practices.

This actually makes a lot of sense. They kept telling the state regulators how poor they were and were announcing profits that weren't really there. No wonder that didn't jibe.

posted by Tacoshop | 8:16 PM

154. Light Posting Today.

I often feel ill after severe weather changes, and today it is a bit chilly, so I'll probably not say a whole lot today.

This is the apricot ale I mentioned in the comments for 153. This is a good raspberry ale. Like I mentioned, you can substitute these for the water in biscuit mixes (which pretty much means you probably can't use Bisquick then, as that uses milk instead) for fabulous biscuits.

There was something else, but I can't remember what it was.

I'm working on another post regarding my best friend (if anyone is interested, or interested in avoiding it), but I have to sort some things out in my head first.


posted by Tacoshop | 2:45 PM

153. The Most Earth-Shattering Question of All Time.

What kind of beer do you all like?

posted by Tacoshop | 9:28 AM

Saturday, July 27, 2002  

152. Woot!

They managed to rescue all nine!

posted by Tacoshop | 9:47 PM

151. Air Show.

I had a good friend injured at the Ramstein Air Show disaster in the '80s.

posted by Tacoshop | 5:10 PM

150. Now That I'm Calmer...

I've changed it back.

posted by Tacoshop | 5:06 PM

149. Title Change.

I changed the title of my blog to honor all the lovely people from other countries that are obviously so morally, culturally and intellectually superior to the U.S. If blogger ever updates, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

posted by Tacoshop | 12:51 PM

148. A Busy Day.

Well, I've been out on other people's blogs, probably pissing them off to no end by defending the actions of my country in various parts of the world. Like many Americans, I wish we would just abandon them all to their own devices. Pull all the troops back and watch the world go to hell. Screw everybody.

There is a bizarre politcal campaign going on in Seattle. Two blocks to my west is the beginning of the 36th legislative district and one of the people campaigning is Angela Brink. Her website says nothing substantive about her or the issues. Also strange is that she's a Republican. She's a Republican running in Seattle, and she has a picture of a statue on her website. Who is the statue of? None other than Vladimir Ilych Lenin. It's also interesting that she has a picture of the streetsign at the corner of 36th and Fremont on her site. While a goodly chunk of the Fremont neighborhood falls in the 36th, most of it, including that intersection (all of Fremont Avenue for that matter -- two blocks to my east) and the statue of Lenin all fall in the 43d.

She's quite attractive. It almost looks like she could win a beauty pageant. Actually she did -- she was crowned Miss Oregon in 2000. The other interesting omission from her website's background is that her father was in the logging industry as she herself has been. I probably wouldn't have put that on the website either.

She's probably quite a nice young lady. I'll bet she doesn't do well in the election tho...

posted by Tacoshop | 12:40 PM

Friday, July 26, 2002  

147. Too Much Gas, Maybe?

"A photo of the pair taken in happier times and posted on the Internet showed both had perfect smiles."

posted by Tacoshop | 6:54 PM

146. Compartments.

I called my best friend last night and asked her to call me back. Next month is our fifteenth annum of having met (anniversary has too many other connotations I'd like to avoid). I called her because I bought her a round onyx and silver pendant for the occasion (it is nice and very affordable, and gave me the opportunity to window shop for my gf's birthday gift) and I wanted to know if she wanted me to mail it or deliver it in person. Personally, I wanted to deliver it, but after no phone call, I decided it would be better to mail it.

She called me back after I sent it off (of course) and we had a nice chat. The conversation meandered around and strayed into areas I had not wanted it to but it was a nice talk anyway. One of the things she brought up was my ability to compartmentalize my emotions. It's kind of like a Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde thing. I have this little compartment of Hyde emotions -- the ones I don't want to have about her but can't seem to get rid of -- and it's a chore to try to keep those emotions out of my interactions with her. I wind up second- and third-guessing myself. If I say something to her, I always have to wonder if I was speaking out of a platonic standpoint, and if I have the best intentions at heart.

The day before yesterday, I heard one of those songs that we bandied about to each other on our transatlantic audio cassettes back when we were not-quite madly in love with each other played on the radio. Recently these songs have caused me much cringing when I've encountered them, but this time I felt nothing. I even sang along. That was what prompted me to buy and send her something to commemorate the annum.

One of the things that seem to happen with my emotion regarding her is that when the Hyde-type emotions leave, they leave instantly. It's like I turned the corner, or a switch was fipped -- or the container that held the viscous and potent emotions I so wished to avoid was suddenly upended and then righted, empty. That happened shortly after her last visit -- about a day after I coined the name 'Wilma' from 'Woman I Love More than Anything' over on jf's blog. I don't know where the emotional liquid went, but there is only the residue on the sides and bottom of the container remaining.

So a piece of me has suddenly felt empty, and I am cautiously glad but at the same time I kind of miss it. Only cautiously because I know that this came back to blindside me once before.

In the last year I know I've been a good friend to her when she needed me, but on the other hand I've been a jerk too. Those times that I've said or done things to her that are less than friendly, it's like I'm having an out-of-body experience: I know what I'm about to say is screwy, but there I am saying it anyway. Well, that's what it's like much of the time. There are other times when I've said things that I genuinely thought were neat things at the time, only to reflect on them now without that viscous emotional liquid filter that I had and realize how stupid they really were. I actually suggested that if we were single by the time we made 40 that we should get married. She playfully suggested 42 because that would be the 25th annum, but you could tell she was not exactly thrilled with the idea. But damn, now that seems so... deranged. There is a stereotype of the emotional needy and clingy man that is unable to let go, and I'm trying to not fit that mold, but it sure seems like I do.

So I apologized to her again for it and yet I still dwell on it. Hopefully I can resolve this soon. Hopefully I can resolve this, period.

But I sure hope she likes that pendant. It seemed fairly unique without being garish, and she's a very unique and non-garish person. I think she'll adore it, but only time will tell...

posted by Tacoshop | 5:11 PM

145. A Good Example...

...of denial. "Maj. Gary Kolb, a spokesman for the Army Special Operations Command, said it would be a reach to link the family killings to Afghanistan. "

Look harder, Major.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:25 PM

Thursday, July 25, 2002  

144.A Link For S.Y.A.

Here, since you mentioned it in an earlier comment here.

posted by Tacoshop | 8:01 PM

143. Ummm...


posted by Tacoshop | 7:13 PM

142. Well, You All Know I Live With Cats.

But have I mentioned the birds? We have two birds, a Quaker (or Monk) Parakeet and a Hahn's Macaw. I found this story about another Quaker named Elmo. Elmo is pretty hilarious, and his antics remind me of Abby, our QP.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:06 PM

141. quasi-political: Myth Dispelling.

I read this over on Michele's site, and of course followed her link to here. It's a nice letter, really, and I agree with the sentiment but there are two concepts in it that I think are, well -- wrong, and I see them repeated over and over and over by so many people...

First of all, who won the Crusades?

The Crusades were about a dozen major military expeditions (some more major than others) whose goal were to capture the Holy Lands. Only the first was truly successful in it's goal -- but you have to wonder how successful it truly was if they had to have so many more after it's completion! Also, the writer mentions the whole Christian notion of killing only in defense and whatnot, and while he has a point, the Crusades were launched after the repeated robbery and killing of pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem. Yes, it was a tad 'opportunistic' of Urban II to call for the taking of the Levant by force because of pilgrim mugging, but he at least had more pretext than say, President Polk who wanted the US to stretch to the Pacific and attacked Mexico to pursue that end (From the Halls of Montezuma...).

Speaking of Presidents and the United States, this is the other myth that bothers me. In that note Keith alluded to how the US uses the threat of military action to promulgate democracy. Yes, we like democracy. We like it if others become democratic. We don't tend to force countries into it, at least not with our military (economic policy is another matter entirely). Don't believe me? Think about it for a minute -- the countries where we have had a large military, non-peacekeeping role since the first World War, how many of those became democracies because of that military action? Japan, Germany, Italy, and Afghanistan. And that's all I come up with. South Korea didn't achieve democracy until 1975, South VietNam wasn't a democracy and wouldn't likely have been if we had united the country for them, Somalia wasn't even a country when we left (I used to tell anarchists to move to Mogadishu so they could experience their no-government utopia firsthand), Kuwait isn't and neither is Saudi Arabia (not that their government fell or was in imminent danger of falling) or Iraq or Pakistan for that matter. There are two that fall into some other category, Granada and Panama, and the reason why is because at some time previous to our military intervention, they had been democratic (I think they were anyway, I'm actually kind of fuzzy on that one) and among other things, our military involvement restored the democracies there.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:04 AM

Wednesday, July 24, 2002  


I went here. I drank this. Hope it meets with your approval.

posted by Tacoshop | 9:50 PM

139. Well...

This should annoy at least a couple of people.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:28 PM

Tuesday, July 23, 2002  

138. How You Know You're Fat.

Concrete crumbles beneath you. As it did beneath me this afternoon when I went to walk the dog. The second step that leads up to my house gave way, and I landed very unceremoniously on my ass. Specifically, I landed on my bad hip.

I am in so much pain.

And I Fat-Ass Criticalled a concrete step. Good grief.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:45 PM

137. If You See A SMLM Vehicle, Notify the Tuesday Too!

Tuesday Too answers are here.

SMLM cards are here. Yes, I did carry one of these around with me. Yes, I did call in every time I saw a SMLM.

posted by Tacoshop | 6:08 AM

Monday, July 22, 2002  

137. My Prognostication Sucks, I'm Glad to Say.

I thought for sure that this girl would be found dead, and that her disappearance was connected to the disappearances of the two girls from Oregon City earlier this year. It must be quite the relief for her parents. It must suck, on the other hand, to be the parents of the two girls that are still missing.

posted by Tacoshop | 11:34 PM

136. Blah Bla-blah Bla-blah.

Blah. Blah blah blah bla-blah, bla-blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah bla. Blah? Blah, blah, blah. Blah blah bla-blah bla-blah: a) blah, b) blah and c) blah. Bleh.

My brother once aced a paper where he used blahs in strategic places in his citations. Specifically, I think it was "Such and Such Article, Independent Blah Blah Blah Bla-Blah..."

posted by Tacoshop | 7:36 PM

135. Sad Salvation.

Over at Sad Salvation, Rich has started a new meme called the Monday Top Five. He sent me email about it, but since he used the word 'spam' in the subject line, I took it at face value and ignored it. Today's Top Five has to do with movies and summers past.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:06 AM

134. Usually...

To quote myself from my last post, "Usually, when it comes to dinner, I usually..."

Um, ...am redundant?

She did call from Utah, by the way. The Mormons have not made off with her yet. The last time she went to Utah, I told her that in case anyone asked what she did for a living, she should tell them that she was a pagan missionary, looking for good potential heathens.

posted by Tacoshop | 3:57 AM

Saturday, July 20, 2002  

133. I Am Friendless.

Well, I am girlfriendless, as she is in Utah. At least I think she is in Utah, she never called to let me know that the plane didn't fall out of the sky or anything. I didn't see anything on the news though, so if she got on the plane, she's in Utah.

My head hurts, and I've not even been drinking.

And I'm hungry.

Usually, when it comes to dinner, I usually cue off of what she wants and make or fetch something for both of us. Now I have to decide whether satisfying hunger pains is even worth leaving the house, or for that matter, the chair I'm in if I want to make anything. The fact that the neighbors seem to be burning frozen pizza doesn't seem to be helping.

The news is on. Deborah Feldman is a cutie. She looks better on TV than on the Web. I have a thing for female news anchors, if you've not figured that out already.

A lot of big to-do is being made over the South African (links furnished upon request) HIV positive muppet. I think that's pretty stupid. I'm betting that if it was any other terminal and incurable disease there wouldn't be nearly the uproar. HIV+ kids deserve to have role-models they can relate to, too. I think that kids with HIV+ peers could use the ethics lesson that Sesame Street gives, with relation to HIV. It certainly seems their parents need it.

I think I'm calling Stacia's.

posted by Tacoshop | 6:38 PM

Tuesday, July 16, 2002  

132. Tuesday Too.

I almost skipped this one (didn't like talking about past faux pas) but it's here.

posted by Tacoshop | 3:16 PM

Sunday, July 14, 2002  

131. Hey, Cool.

Cheap (relatively speaking) airplane.

posted by Tacoshop | 11:47 AM

Saturday, July 13, 2002  

130. Note to My UK Readers.

This is not worth a pound per bottle.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:22 PM

129. Miscellanea.

I am fat, dumb and happy.

The day before yesterday my gf woke me to go fetch a crow that Spot was trying to turn into lunch. Spot is the most interesting tom in the neighborhood, a small feisty black and white -- not tuxedo -- that is a rather accomplished hunter. The crow was just a baby, it still had blue eyes, but it was almost as big as spot. We ran into the neighbor's back yard and I snagged Spot while my gf grabbed the corvid. I think Spot initially thought we were helping him. He hasn't wanted to talk to me since. I gave the crow to my vet for transer for Sarvey yesterday. He had a puncture in his left wing and although it didn't seem to be broken, we think there was some fairly extensive tissue damage as he wasn't able to really manipulate it well.

As I write this, I can see Spot stalk breakfast across the street. Go Spot, go! I'd take Spot in if I didn't already have three cats, as I think he's a friendly feral. My gf thinks someone actually belongs to him, but I sure do see him a lot on cold nights. If he has a home, he doesn't have much of one. That being said, he does pretty ok if he is a feral. He's not exactly thin, and I've seen him take rats he's found in my yard or under my porch bigger than him. (We're pretty close to a canal, there are always a few rats around, as well as a large amount of raccoons and some coyotes.

We had dinner at some friend's place last night. Parking was limited, and the guy told me to park around in front of the bushes up by the road. So I did, but because of the width of the van and the strange angle I took to get there (I really should have thought this out better, it's something that, while tricky, probably is doable for a vehicle that wide) I put the driver's side of the van into the ditch. That was when I was sober. It took three beers and two shots of whiskey before I got the van back out, with the help of my friend's neighbor and his truck. I had fun at least. And for a change the food there was cooked to perfection (I cooked it).

posted by Tacoshop | 8:04 AM

Thursday, July 11, 2002  

128. Laughing at Misfortune.

I probably ought not to. Two employers ago I worked for the largest software company you've probably never heard of. My stock option strike price was $110.67. They're now trading for sixteen bucks and may default on some of their property leases. One of my very best friends still works there and it sucks for him, but as to the rest of the company: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Ha! I hope Microsoft buys them. It would serve those elitest *nix bastards right.

posted by Tacoshop | 10:07 AM

127. Fear is a Great Motivator.

Thanks for the comments that the five of you left. Obviously there is no 'right' answer, primarily because the concept of 'fear' is probably different from person to person or from group to group. Personally, my views are closest to sya's, in that I think the 'opposite' of fear is pretty much the absence of fear.

I've thought long and hard about what to say here, and the point I want to get across I think is that fear (just my opinion, of course) plays a larger part in the day-to-day drudgery than people likely realize. Early on in my consideration of fear, the only thing that seems to be more pervasive to a living organism -- cat, dog, chicken, you, me or houseplant -- is necessity. That is the necessity of being, of survival. I pondered that for a minute and then I decided that necessity -- the needing to live, with all of it's subclassifications: eating, drinking, breathing, laughing, loving, feeling, surviving -- is also fear. It is the most innate fear and is one of the things that makes living beings live. The hunger pains you feel is your body fearing that you're not going to feed it. The thirst you wish to quench is your body fearing dehydration. The heartache you feel is the innate fear of being alone.

True, there are some people that can transcend the fear that necessity brings them. Hunger strikers, for example. Celibates are another. Contemplating fear has given me a new perspective on the Catholic church scandal that has recently fallen off of American newspapers front pages across the country. This contemplation has allowed me to at least pity the clergy involved, even if I cannot forgive them for it. (If, of course, they are all as guilty as the press and their accusers are making them out to be.)

For the most part, however, I think that the common everyday person is caught up in the fear of being and isn't really aware of it. Why do you clean your house? Why do you go to work? Why are you nice to people? Why do you care? If you ask yourselves these questions, and play the little kid's game of asking, "But why?" to all the answers, it boils down to fear. The bottom line is that you fear the alternative. Why do you clean your house? You're afraid of the alternative. Why do you go to work? You're afraid of the alternative. Why are you nice to people? A tougher one, but you're afraid of what would happen if people weren't nice to you, so you're nice to them. If nothing else, it gives you moral high ground. Why do you care? About anything? Because you fear what would happen if you did not care about your kids, your car, your pets, your friends, your finances...

The beggars in this week's Tuesday Too have turned the tables on fear. They no longer fear what would happen if they lost everything. They've lost it. They're still alive. What's the worst that can happen to them now? As such, they use fear as a tool for survival -- it's just that they're using your fear as the tool for their survival. It doesn't make them brave, it simply makes them apathetic. In my mind, apathy is equatable to the opposite of fear.

There are several scenes in Black Hawk Down of a colonel, calmly walking through the war zone, bullets zinging all around him, missing him by inches. I've seen scenes like this play out first hand. I'd hate to be that guy's family today because to him nothing will ever top the experience he had in that moment. What can be worse than that day to him? Is there anything anybody can ever do to this guy after that day that is going to phase him in the slightest? Hardly.

Once you take that into account, you can see why there were so many homeless VietNam veterans in the 1980's. They came back to the world to find that people were afraid of losing their pathetic do-nothing, go-nowhere jobs. Afraid of losing their houses. And they were supposed to be afraid as well? After VietNam? Most of them probably did make the adjustment, but obviously there were many that did not.

In today's world, because of past fears and our responses to them, we've developed completely new fears to take their place. There are a growing number of people that are refusing to have their kids vaccinated because they fear that their child will have a reaction to the vaccine itself. I'll wager that most -- I'll bet you the percentage is in the very high nineties, like 99.9% of these people never met someone that suffered from small pox or polio myelitis. Probably most of them have never met someone that suffered from malaria, for that matter. In their minds, the risk to their kids and the population at large is worth it. Personally, it frightens the hell out of me.

Fear is not so pervasive that it insinuates itself into every endeavor -- unless it's put there through outside means. Take art for example. Generally speaking, people don't make art out of fear. There are exceptions to this, such as the graphic artist who is afraid of losing their job if they don't perform, musicians under contract, or even people wo set goals that they will do so many paintings in a particular month -- who are then afraid of missing their goal. I think that this is in a lot of respects what makes art 'art', the fact that it came squarely from someplace devoid of fear. Love and trust don't have this luxury, because those have to first overcome fear, as does bravery and courage. I suppose you can make art while afraid, but the bulk of art I'd say is probably not created this way.

Enthusiasm I suppose could be the opposite of fear, but in my mind going from zero to enthused has to pass through apathy first. Enthusiasm, trust, love, confidence -- most anything that could be the opposite of fear insinuates caring. I'm not sure about confidence though -- but in the case of enthusiasm, trust and love, if you run those three concepts against the empirical "Why do you...?" you can get back to the fear of the alternative. Confidence doesn't seem to react this way, but then maybe because it's something else. Or maybe Bink's really on to something there.

The reality is that it really doesn't matter except in how we perceive the world -- and how we react to people that will of course perceive the world differently than we do. But then, truth be told, the reason I put that line in there is because I'm afraid of pissing someone off that may not agree with what I've said...

posted by Tacoshop | 4:51 AM

Wednesday, July 10, 2002  

126. Riddle Me This, BatBlogReader!

What's the opposite of 'fear'?

If you'd like to answer and would like to spend the time, I'd also like to know why you think whatever you think the opposite of fear is. I'll give my answer tomorrow, largely because I expect my answer to be possibly controversial. I don't want to get in a position where I've hurt feelings or made someone mad. People will react to the strangest things, you know...

posted by Tacoshop | 6:44 AM

Tuesday, July 09, 2002  

125. Cheesiest Websites.

One. This site is hilarious, but on the other hand I think they're mistaken about Cabrales.

Two. This site absolutely gushes about Spanish cheese, to the point that you'd think that it's run by the Spanish government or something (it is).

Three. French cheese retailer with an extensive guide to French cheese.

Four. Cheese (and other foods) from Wisconsin.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:08 PM

124 Oh My God.

They're smoking some good stuff down in Kent. The trailer is... well, is. I have got to see this film.

--warning-- if you're a devout Christian, the kimd that is so devout that you might get offended seeing JC portrayed in an unflattering way, you should probably not click on the link in this post.

posted by Tacoshop | 6:10 AM

123. Tuesday Tooness.


posted by Tacoshop | 4:42 AM

Monday, July 08, 2002  

122. Google Searches.

So I reinstalled a webcounter because I wanted to see what Google searches led people here. So far I've had three referrals from Google and one from Yahoo. Are you ready for the perverse things people are searching for?

1. sandwich spread recipes
2. taco spread recipe
3. enetation
4. chad

posted by Tacoshop | 4:55 PM

121. The Best Cup of Coffee I've Ever Had.

Another post derived from things jf has written.

Way back around the Thanksgiving holiday in 1991, I journeyed with a friend of mine that I was stationed with in Camp Pendleton up to his family’s residences (the parents were divorced) near the Utah-Idaho border. The day after the big dinner at his Dad’s ranch, he introduced me to the joy that is all-terrain cycle riding.

They had a four-wheeled one and one of the old trikes that you can’t buy anymore
because they were so unstable. I rode with my friend on the trike and his brother rode the quad. When we got to the point that we decided to turn around, they asked me if I wanted to drive. I accepted, and my friend got on the quad with his brother, leaving me to pilot the trike. It was decided that since I was a novice, I would lead, that way they could monitor me if I had difficulty.

Things went well for a ways, and then I was cruising up to a left-hand turn at a pretty good clip when I discovered that the trike simply did not want to make that turn, no matter how much coaxing I did or tried to do. Hence, I panicked. And since I panicked, I didn’t think to take my hand off of the accelerator and I ran off the road.

Now, that doesn’t sound too bad. I ran off the road. No big deal, right? Well, not exactly. As I was driving down this unnamed, unmapped and private road (insurance fraud investigators love unnamed, unmapped private road accidents, I later found out, but that’s a much different and much duller story) there was a mountain on my left. Well, it was really a steep foothill kind of a thing. But the point is that whatever it was, hill or mountain, this road was not at the base of it. If, in the moments immediately prior to the accident, I had looked really hard to my right I might have realized that those roadside evergreen bushes were, in fact, evergreen trees and I was looking at the tops of them. Thankfully, however I did not realize this quite at the time. I pretty much put that all together the instant I made my inadvertent right turn off of the road and was whacked in the head with the tree I bounced off of, which was fortunate as it deflected me and the trike back to the road a bit.

When I came to rest, I was looking up at the road, which was about four feet higher than me. The problem was I didn’t hear the noise of the other ATC. A couple of minutes later, they came by and (again) fortunately for me, they saw the tracks in the snow and pieced together what had happened. They look over, I look up, it was quite the scene.

They hauled me up to the road, which is when I got my first real good look at the accident. The trike and I hadn't landed on the ground. Somehow, my friend's dad or granddad had managed to put in a four-strand barbed wire fence about ten feet below the lip of this road, running parallel to the ground. I had landed on that. Funnier still, I had no idea until I was back on the road that I had not been standing on terra firma down there.

So we needed to get the trike back to the road, and we did not have any idea how we were going to do this. Somehow we managed, and in the process of getting it righted and ready to go home was when the pain first started to hit me. Breathing became very difficult, and I was much more worried about that than the pain that I also was experiencing in my knee, shoulder and back.

We made it back to the ranch house and everyone got mad at us for taking the ATCs without permission (even though the two guys I was with here were both at least twenty they got in a lot of shit with their dad for this) and I tried to lay down and took a lot of aspirin.

No luck. We had to go to the hospital. They offered to take me to the local vet (no joke, he also performed emergency people services if it was dire enough) but I figured I could make it to the hospital, which was fifty miles away as the crow flew.

Fucking crows. In the Utah and Idaho mountains, in the winter (technically autumn, but we all know better) in the snow, it took us four hours to get to Logan to go to the hospital. My friend drove, and his youngest sister accompanied to keep us company, probably because she was a little bored. (No snide remarks about puny American snow from any Scandinavians or Canadians are allowed here.)

My chest hurts now just writing this story.

Anyway, we get to the hospital, and they want proof of insurance before they see me. I’ve been military or a dependent of the military all my life, so I’ve never had health insurance that I’ve needed to concern myself with. For the most part, it was always transparent, so the insurance thing was a bit daunting.

The woman I’m talking to here had a computer terminal that she was entering all this stuff into, and as it turned out, there was no way to include an insurance provider not on their list of insurance providers. As it also turned out, neither was my insurer at the time, which of course was the United States Government. We hemmed and hawed over this for a few minutes until I finally told them that I was insured by CHAMPUS, which was the insurer I had had as a kid. They had CHAMPUS on the list, and I knew that I would just have to help them figure this all out later. That, and the stupid location thing, since it was an unnamed, unmapped and private road that I had driven off of.

At this point, I’m in like Flynn. My friend and I waited for the nurse to come triage me, and his sister sat in the waiting room. While we’re waiting, I’m in one of those beds in an emergency room with only curtains separating me from all the other beds in the place. Only one other patient was there that night, and my god she was moaning. It was quite obvious she was in pain (a lot of pain), but her moans were almost pornographic. My friend and I just stared, wide-eyed at each other, wondering what demonic rituals were going on in the next partition. Come to find out, she had tried to kill herself by ingesting sleeping pills. Her family caught her and rushed her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. Let that be a lesson to all the suicidal kiddies out there – getting your stomach pumped really sucks (pun not intended).

My friend leaves the room, the nurse comes in and I tell her what happened. I get to the part about the neck pain and her eyes get really big and she runs out of the room and comes back with a neck brace. I struggle out of my shirt and we put the brace on, and we continue with me telling her I think that if anything is broken, it’s my sternum because I probably landed on the left end of the handlebars when I crashed, since I had the wheel canted all the ways left.

They strap me down to the stretcher and wheel me past my friend and his sister, who lets out an audible gasp at me immobilized on this thing – they now fear the worst, since he had left me sitting up in the emergency room. The x-ray procedure sucked, but it turns out that I’ve broken nothing. I just can’t move too good.

We drove back to Camp Pendleton, where I got in trouble for driving off of a cliff and my friend got in trouble for letting me do it – since he was higher ranking than me. I went to the doctor, figuring that this was good for a lot of light duty.

Nope. Full duty. I couldn’t take a full breath, could barely walk, let alone run, couldn’t turn my head to the right, and couldn’t raise my arm higher than my shoulder. But it wasn’t too bad as it was now Christmas, the unit wasn’t doing anything too strenuous and I was going on leave anyway to visit Wilma in Michigan. She was quite supportive and I convalesced well. When I went back to California, the only problem that really remained was the arm. I still had a lot of trouble moving it higher than my shoulder.

I went back to the doctor, and again was marked full duty. Immediately after that, my unit went to the field. It was a common adage within my unit that the only time it rained in California was when we were on exercise. Because of this, we had developed the penchant of driving in our tents with not the normal tent stakes, but engineering stakes. An engineering stake is that funny-shaped green pole with long rows of holes most municipalities in America use to mount things like stop signs. Naturally, I was placed on the working party for the tents and had to drive those things in with a sledgehammer.

I was mad. I mentioned my anger at the battalion physician to one of his corpsmen, who in turn gave me a heads-up. It seemed that Dr. Birdsong (I am not making that jackasses name up, btw) was going to be at a conference and all the cases that would come in needing some service the corpsmen couldn’t give would subsequently be sent to the next higher medical authority.


So I went while Dr. Birdsong was gone and told the doctor at the area clinic what was going on, and he referred me to physical therapy at Navy Hospital Camp Pendleton. I finally got my light duty and the treatment that I needed.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3:30 P.M., (er, I mean 1530) I had an appointment with physical therapy regarding my shoulder. At the end of January, we went back to the field for two weeks. Because of my light duty status and the fact that I was undergoing physical therapy, I figured I couldn’t go. Wrong.

Since I was on very limited light duty and could not really perform my regular duties, I went to the field as a guard for the whole exercise. It was kind of funny, they issued us nightsticks, but no weapons. Everyone actually in the exercise was carrying their (unloaded, of course) weapon, but the guards had nightsticks. I reported in and told the guard commander that he needed to not schedule me on the two to six shifts – we worked four hours on and eight off – because of my physical therapy and he needed to provide me with transportation to the hospital.

You should be able to see what’s coming here. I was assigned two to sixes, no transportation to the hospital. For that, I could use my car.

It was the only instance I knew of where someone got to bring their own privately owned vehicle to the field with them. It was a bit incongruous, a battered red with red interior Datsun 280ZX (I miss that car) parked across the street from all of these green and khaki things. I’ll bet it made us easy to find despite all the camouflage netting from the air for the air wing guys to come, perform aerial surveillance and pretend to bomb us. One morning after I had gotten off of my shift, I had been across the street at my car, shaving, when an observation plane came and observed me for a good half-hour. Finally when he was getting ready for his umpteenth camera pass I scowled at him and he flew off, but I imagine he was either really puzzled by the presence of my car or he was laughing his ass off. Probably both.

The rain adage held true for this operation as well, in spades. After the fourth day, the mud sucked us in to our ankles. We had tried to be good guards at the beginning and do all those ooh-rah Marine Corps things like not speak unless spoken to, patrol the entire shift and all that jazz that we were supposed to do, but by the third day the miserable rain and mud just kind of drained it out of us. That fourth evening was where my guard partner and I pretty much decided that this was just shit.

After that, it was a good early-morning shift if we made two tours around the camp each, but mostly we stood at the access road (if you could still call it that) freezing our asses off, shooting the shit. This is how I learned that he was still really new to the Corps – he’d been in five months – and he was in supply, and that he was still being a supply guy while also being on guard – which was pretty crappy if you ask me. My dad had been a supply sergeant in the Army for a number of years, so this gave us quite a bit to talk about, even though he was still really new.

Somewhere along the way in this conversation, he said the fateful words, “Fuck, I could use a good cup of coffee right now!”

(You probably thought I had forgotten what the subject was.)

I arched an eyebrow at him. “Um, you’re in supply.”

“Yeah, so? The only coffee we got is that crappy shit from the MREs.”

“The mess hall has leftover coffee in the urns in the messtent.”

“Yeah, but that shit’s all cold.”

“So? You’re in supply!”

He wasn’t getting it.

Finally, I said, “Fuck man! Heat tabs!” I said it with a lok on my face that tried to convey that he should have used his head and figured this out already. He gave me probably the blankest look I’ve ever seen. “You mean nobody’s introduced you to heat tabs?”

He shook his head no. So I told him that it was his turn to make rounds and he needed to drop by supply. I told him what he was looking for, what the boxes looked like and all that other good stuff. About an hour later, he returned, loaded down with little white boxes, smiling from ear to ear. He wondered how the things worked. There were no instructions and he had opened one up to find only what looked like a sculpted blue oval rock. We each went to the messtent to fill our canteens with leftover cold coffee. When we both returned to the access road, I pulled out my canteen cup and attached my canteen cup stand. This was all new to him, he’d wondered what the hell the stand was for since he had first been issued one in boot camp. I set the heat tab in the mud, borrowed his lighter and tried to light it. No go, as the wind and rain wasn’t having any of this lighting fires business.

So I went across the street and fetched my car. Using it as a wind screen, I successfully lit the heat tab, poured the coffee from the canteen into the cup and voila!

My new partner in crime and I stood there, listening to the car stereo, pretending to be on guard and drinking the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. By the end of the exercise, we were sitting in the car for most of the night shift and if we each did a tour, it was a really good night. After two weeks of constant rain, my car was one of the few vehicles that could leave, since I didn’t have to get too far into the mud.

The friendship I made with this lowly private lasted the rest of my time in Camp Pendleton. It proved profitable in Somalia when our own unit’s supply didn’t want to provide us with bottled water (leaving us with the under-purified crap that was barely adequate for bathing) I got some for him. In return, since I was in communications, I got him access to a phone for Christmas.

The coffee was really only that good that first night we went to all the trouble for it. It’s funny how that works.

posted by Tacoshop | 12:01 AM

Tuesday, July 02, 2002  

120. Comment Box Changes.

So when I woke up this afternoon, I noticed that I was getting a debug error every time the webpage wanted to load a new comment line. When I went to Gert's blog, I was getting the same thing, in addition to the debug errors I get from her page when it loads her chatbox (Des' blog does the same).

You're probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about.

If you install Microsoft's debugging tools or a developer package by them, every time something quasi-breaks on your computer, a little pop-up will come up and say that there is an error in such and such oline in so and so program and ask you if you want to debug it? Well, I didn't want to debug it, especially since: a) I don't know code and b) it wasn't my code breaking even if I did, but I got sick of pressing my 'N' key for every entry on every YACCS-enabled blog. So I moved to Enetation.

posted by Tacoshop | 3:48 PM

119. Tuesday Too.

My answers are here.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:36 AM

Monday, July 01, 2002  

118. Random Musings.

We blew up a wedding in Afghanistan today. It's staggering to think that we have the most competent military on the globe and are still capable of such screw-ups. If you've not already done so, please take a moment to consider the families of those lost today.

I took the trash out at 2AM this morning. The air smelled so wonderfully fragrant I had to go for a 2 hour drive. It's been quite some time since I noticed.

A lot of people post poetry on their site. Here's some for you all to enjoy:

(something desired as essential)
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember
what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle to yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars and you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

--Max Ehrmann, 1927. © Robert L. Bell

I used to carry a copy of this around in my wallet, until it disintegrated somewhere. I'm represented in it as the loud and aggressive person you should avoid.

While I've pretended for several years to be a better cook than I am, I am always brought back to Earth by my inability to cook an omelette. Pity my poor girlfriend, who is getting bad omelettes for breakfast until I cook a decent one. Presumably, she'll get that one too.

Have a nice day!

posted by Tacoshop | 4:05 PM