Friday, June 27, 2008

Missing Tomatoes and Ugly Chickens

About fifteen years ago I read something very funny about tomatoes. I've tried for years to remember the name of it. I couldn't remember who wrote it either. I was thinking that it was something like The Great Tomato Epidemic of 1978.

That wasn't it. Anyway, it was a very short funny thing, really short, and I couldn't find it. I had read it in a library book, a collection of short stories, and I wasn't really even sure of the name of that book. I remember that it was one of those "best of" books, and that it was in the same volume with a story called "The Ugly Chickens." (The Ugly Chickens is also a very funny story, though not nearly as short as the one about tomatoes.) Since I did not want to go back to that library and try to find a collection of short stories containing the story "The Ugly Chickens" in order to find another story about tomatoes, I have many times tried to find the tomato story on the Internet.

Sometimes Google just doesn't seem very helpful. You would think that science fiction stories about tomatoes would be a rare thing and what I was looking for would pop right up. But most searches either lead to Killer Tomatoes or Rotten Tomatoes, so I was having no luck with it. Sometimes, just no amount of typing or banging one's head against the wall produces what one is looking for.

Anyway, this morning I found this. I'd remembered the name entirely wrong. In fact, it turned out to be The Dread Tomato Addiction, so the only word I'd gotten right was tomato. And it's a lot shorter than I remembered, only one page. Still, it is funny.

Around here, I am starting to miss tomatoes. I'd heard on the news that there was a problem with salmonella poisoning and tomatoes, but I hadn't really paid much attention to it. I didn't pay attention to the previous problem with spinach either. I just thought that if I got any from the store that I would wash them, and if I got any at a restaurant someone else would wash them, and that would be that. Apparently, it isn't that simple, and you can't just wash the stuff off of the tomatoes. But, still, I wasn't really paying attention.

Then a week or two ago we went to Taco Cabana and had tacos. But there was no tomatoes on the tacos, and there was no pico de gallo on the salsa bar either. I can't think of anything that I eat there that I don't want pico de gallo, so I guess I won't be going there til it is all sorted out. The next day we went to Whataburger, and again there was the sign on the door saying that they wouldn't be serving tomatoes for a while. I prefer tomatoes on my hamburger, so I ordered a fish sandwich instead, so that I did not notice the absence of tomatoes as much.

A few days after that, I forgot about the whole tomato thing, and we went to Chipotle's. But they still had pico de gallo, so my burrito was not ruined.

My plants are not producing at the moment, which I had assumed was due to the heat. Tomatoes don't produce fruit above a certain temperature, and being in Texas we spend a lot of time with the temperature being above whatever it is that makes the tomato plants happy. So I had not thought much of it, just that it must have gotten hotter sooner this year than last time I had tomato plants. Only my neighbors with tomato plants are still getting a fair amount of tomatoes, and at least one guy is having a bumper crop. So I must have done something wrong, and I will have to read up on it later.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sometimes I just want to scream, What the f*** is wrong with you?

I've had a fight with someone today. I tried to avoid the fight. I felt a fight coming and asked that person to just go away for a while and leave me alone. That would have to happen sooner or later anyway, we both have things to do and cannot just spend the whole day doing basically nothing. So when I don't feel well and feel like if I have to stay around this person much longer we'll end up fighting, why can't the other person just go away and give me an hour or so to myself?

I think that some people just know when that sort of thing is coming and just get a feeling that they should leave. Not that they're always right, not that maybe you shouldn't say something like would it be better if I gave you some space, etc.... Other people just don't seem to sense that sort of thing at all and have to be told, leave me alone for now, go away before I say something that I'll regret, etc....

But this person doesn't get it even after I've said, you were planning to leave in about an hour anyway, and I don't feel well, and if you would just go go ahead and leave now it would probably be best.


Because I don't want to fight, and I don't feel well now, and I felt bad yesterday, so if you'd just go ahead and leave now before we get into anything maybe we won't end up having a fight.

Why did you feel bad yesterday? When did you feel bad yesterday?

You really don't know, do you? You really don't have a clue, do you? Please, I don't want to get into it now, so could you just go ahead and go?

The person doesn't leave and again asks what happened yesterday, after I've already said I don't want to talk about it. And again I say something like don't you already know? That's a simple enough question requiring a yes or no answer, or maybe admitting I don't know, or maybe guessing what it might be. And that's if the person is even going to answer the question instead of just leaving when asked to do so. But no appropriate answer was given, and instead it was followed by five minutes or so of nonsense trying to mask the fact that the person doesn't have a clue. Just say, I'm sorry, I don't know what's bothering you, and be done with it.

So the person didn't leave, and said a bunch more things to upset me. Not that the things said were that bad, just that this person knows me well enough to know that is the wrong thing to say to me when I am upset. And, as if the person didn't already know not to say that, I said don't say that, you know how it upsets me. The same thing was said again less than a minute later, and two or three more times before the person decided to leave.

While I was wanting the person to leave before I got really upset, before we were fighting, now that I'm already upset there is no point in leaving. Leaving in the middle of a fight just upsets me more, which the person knows very well, and even if the person didn't know any better I said that it was too late and leaving now would just make things worse. I said that like four times, and the person was still leaving. And it wasn't that the person didn't understand or didn't hear me. The person finally lied to me and said something like okay, I'm not really going, I just have to do something and I'll be right back.

And for several minutes I actually sat there and waited. Maybe something was needed from the car, or maybe something was taken to the car, or maybe a phone call was being made, etc.... So I actually sat there, and then I got curious and got up and walked around a bit, and then I saw that the car was gone. And even then it took me about half an hour to figure out that the person hadn't just gone up the road to drop of a package or check the mail or a number of other things mentioned before the fight, the person wasn't coming back, that we were not going to shake hands and agree to disagree or agree to discuss things at a better time or any of that. The person just left in the middle of a fight, nothing resolved, knowing how much it would hurt me.

So after having this thing going around in my head all day yesterday, now I will have this other thing going around in my head all day today. And the person I had the fight with knew that. And the person wouldn't leave when asked to leave, and wouldn't stay when asked to stay, and has told me yet one more lie and has broken yet one more agreement. So this must have been done deliberately to hurt me, because I cannot believe that anyone could be so stupid.

This is one of the reasons I never seem to get anything done. It just seems to me that whenever I have plans to do something, even some small thing like sorting through books, something like that happens to throw me off schedule. And then I'm just depressed for a while after that, and then I don't do much of anything for a while (or worse, I do something very unproductive like go shopping and eat a lot of cookies), and it seems to take me a week or so to get back to where I was to start with.

On top of all that, someone tried to cheer me up by say something like, thank God it's Friday. Only it isn't Friday, it's only Thursday. So that just depressed the both of us more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some things never change, or do they?

The following things are constant--daily there will be a sunrise and a sunset (except in the polar regions), decent people will always have to deal with a**holes, certain people will always have a lot of books, holiday dinner bought at a restaurant is never as good as mom's cooking (or grandma's cooking or whatever), certain men with a fear of commitment will never get married, if you have a dumba** boss he will never get any smarter, no matter how many times I go to the store I will always forget something, death and taxes, etc....

I have heard a rumor that a certain Mr. Friendly is getting married. The person who told me this did not have much in the way of details, like is he getting married to anyone I know? But supposedly he is getting married in a few months, after decades of everyone assuming he's a confirmed bachelor.

I wasn't assuming he was confirmed bachelor. He actually told me that he would never get married, that there was no point in getting married except to raise children, and he didn't want any children. And he dated someone I went to school with, and there's only so long that a girl can date someone who won't make that commitment, so she moved on. That was a long time ago, but I know that two years ago that was still his opinion. And now he's getting married?

I suppose that I should be happy for Mr. Friendly, but that isn't what I'm thinking. I'm thinking that isn't fair, that I did all the stuff that a person is supposed to do only to end up like this, and now people who've spent their whole lives doing something completely different have changed their minds and are now getting married. People my age and older who've spent decades in casual relationships don't deserve to get married. They should just wake up one day old and alone and figure out that they made a mistake.

Maybe that's what happened. Maybe he woke up alone one day and decided there was still time, and he got engaged to the next lady who smiled at him. So why couldn't he have done that when he was with my buddy from school?

For all I know, he got back together with my buddy from school. She got divorced like three years ago. I'd be very happy for her, except that I'd worry that he'd end up hurting her again.

The rest of the universal constants are still constant.

This weekend I was supposed to buy something. Really, I thought about buying something last weekend, but I forgot about it then, and I forgot about it all week, and I forgot about it again this weekend. So we should have bought something while we were out yesterday, and we still forgot. Yesterday we went to a grocery store, a dollar store, Home Depot, and another dollar store, and we forgot and didn't buy the thing. And that's not to mention that yesterday and earlier this weekend we were out at other stores that would not have had what we forgot to buy, but while we were out we could have gone somewhere else. How could we both be so forgetful?

Dumb bosses are still dumb. At my husband's company, in his area, they have now have now made everyone go to three meetings in the last six months. Nothing is really getting done at these meetings, and still no one is going to get any extra money for gas or anything else that would be of help to the employees, but the company has had a bunch of meetings to say dumb stuff like business is bad. And while they make dumb statements like how the company can't afford to pay extra for gas, even though gas is a travel expense and the company is supposed to pay for travel expenses, the company does somehow have plenty of money to send the managers around to different parts of the company to tell the employees that business is bad.

And my little place in the universe is still a place with too many books. I have always had a lot of books, but this is getting way out of hand. My eyesight just gets worse and worse, and I don't really enjoy reading as much as I used to, and I don't seem to have time for it like I used to. But I still seem to acquire more books and more books, even though I don't read as many as I used to. And I don't really like getting rid of the books I've already read. And except for maybe knitting books, there's really no excuse for buying more books. The knitting is still relatively new, so I haven't had time to get too many of those, but the rest of it doesn't need to be added to.

I'm trying to sort through these books and maybe box some of them up, and maybe even part with some of them. But mostly when I pick up a book I think, there it is, I've been wondering what happened to that book. Rarely do I think, I wonder what made me buy this? So the sorting is a slow process.

I have found that I have two copies of a certain Texas gardening book, two copies of a certain old book on home decoration, and three copies of the same book on soap making. I have endless books on practically the same subject, but there's no way that I need duplicates of the same exact book. And I'm sure that I'll find more duplicates when I start going through the novels. Anyway, I think that I can safely get rid of one Texas gardening book, one home decorating book, and two soap making books, but decided on the rest of them is a bit more difficult.

This week's schedule has been unusual, in that my husband had to work on Sunday but has today off. So Sunday I tried to make some serious progress on the books, knowing that I would probably not get back to it until maybe Wednesday. I had all these books stacked up on the bed and such.

I tripped over something and nearly fell. This in itself is annoying enough. I am now at the point where I fear that the next time I fall it will result in a serious injury, so whenever I think that I am about to fall I tense up so bad that it hurts just from that even if I don't actually fall. So I didn't actually fall that time, but I felt bad for a while afterwards, and I had to sit down for a minute. I noticed some of the books that I had stacked start to slide over.

I am in serious danger of being buried under a massive pile of books and being alone for hours before someone would find me.

Right. Back to work.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thanks for reading

It has been an interesting week here on the blog, if not so much in real life. People from all over the world came here to read about a certain convention getting canceled. And more people than that read my words on other sites where parts of my posts were copied. So people who didn't come here knew what I had to say because they were reading something on the sci fi channel site.

That always makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy when someone I don't even know decides to copy my one of my posts and put it on another website so that more people can read it. Maybe someday someone will do that and it won't be cool, but these last two times have been especially nice. I didn't even try to write anything particularly brilliant on those days, but someone out there still thought I'd said something that was worth repeating. I guess that I just happened to write the right thing at the right time.

The interesting thing about the popularity of the convention cancellation post is that my post was so popular for the very reason that I didn't actually go to the convention. I was just writing my normal diary type thing, and while I was sitting here writing, the convention was canceled, and I got some emails about it. So I was one of the first people to post about that. The people who were actually at the convention didn't do that right away, either because they were at a convention and didn't have their computers with them, or maybe some of them did have their computers but it took a while for them to calm down enough to write anything.

It wasn't quite like having my fifteen minutes of fame. But maybe it was like the blog had fifteen seconds of fame. And while that was going on, real life here was just an average week, mostly spent sorting through the junk and watching end of the world movies on YouTube.

I don't think that I'm going to get any additional regular readers from all this attention, or at least if I have they haven't left me any comments yet. But while this was going on I felt a bit of pressure to not write the usual diary stuff and either post important stuff like about memory problems, or if not important stuff at least stuff that the new people would find interesting like movie reviews. I was going to post about memory problems and a review of the new Hulk movie anyway, so that worked out, but I'm wondering if next week I'll just go back to the usual stuff or if I'll feel weird about posting about problems with mice.

Okay. Back to sorting junk and watching end of the world movies.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

Okay, I promised a review of this movie, and a friend is waiting on it, so I guess I'd better get on with it.

I am not a big fan of comic books, or at least, I don't read them much. I read Elfquest a bit way back when, but I haven't even kept up with that one. Other than that, I just don't read them.

Which isn't to say that they don't often have good stories that make excellent movies or TV shows. When I was a kid I watched Shazam and Isis, which I think were first comic books. Later came Spiderman and Wonder Woman. I watched the short-lived series The Flash. Now I watch Smallville, and before that I watched three other shows based on Superman. And of course I watch all the big movies that are based on comic books--Superman, Batman, The X-Men, Spiderman, etc.... I think Hellboy was a comic book first. And Ironman was excellent. If you haven't seen it yet, go watch Ironman.

When I was about eleven there was a show on called The Incredible Hulk. And at first either I didn't know about the comic book or it didn't look much like the comic book and someone had to tell me that's were they got the idea from. This was a science fiction show about a scientist who had made a terrible mistake experimenting on himself. And while he did end up rescuing a lot of people from this and that, he wasn't like other comic book heroes who deliberately went around looking for people to save, and he didn't run around in a spandex costume beating up bad guys. This guy was spent most of his time trying to find a cure for his odd condition, just as before this happened he was trying to find something that would make people stronger, and before that he was trying to cure cancer or something.

I joke about wanting to marry Mr. Spock. But I think even when I was eleven I loved David Banner. And as an adult, I still think he's pretty special. This is the guy I want. I want someone who would look at me like that. And if he happens to look like Bill Bixby, so much the better.

While I love David Banner from the TV show, I hardly know anything about Bruce Banner from the comic books. Actual comic books are not really my thing. Not that there's anything wrong with them, but I just never really got into them.

So a few years ago someone made this movie called The Hulk, and I went to see it. And it wasn't about David Banner from the TV show, and I don't know if the fans of the comic book liked it or not. To be honest, I didn't care for it, and the main thing that I remember about the plot was that his problems had as much to do with his father's research as it did his own. And I didn't like the CGI big as a building Hulk. Lou Ferringo did such a great job on the TV show, and this movie replaced him with a cartoon.

Anyway, that movie had nothing to do with the TV show.

So then I heard that there was another movie, and again there's another big as a building CGI Hulk. Okay, maybe not quite as big as a building, maybe he's more RV sized. Anyway, no Lou Ferrigno, so I was thinking maybe it was just a sequel to this movie I didn't like. Except that Ed Norton was now playing Dr. Banner. Would Ed Norton be in a sequel to this movie that I didn't like? Not sure.

So I go see the movie, just in case. This movie is a whole lot more like the TV show. The opening is even a lot like the TV show, except that the scientist who is dumb enough to experiment on himself at least isn't dumb enough to do it after hours in a room by himself. So when the Hulk makes his first appearance, the resulting damage puts Banner's girlfriend in the hospital. And then he goes on the run, not from a reporter, but from the whole US military. So Bruce Banner is in hiding, in a country where he doesn't quite speak the language, and everyone who knows him thinks that he's just a little bit nuts. Or maybe a lot nuts.

Ed Norton's Bruce Banner is a lot like Bill Bixby's David Banner. Not quite, but give him a few years and he'll probably get there. Except right at the end of the movie, maybe they're going to go a different direction with this.

And still there is the giant CGI Hulk. No Lou Ferrigno. Now, I know that they couldn't have really hired Lou Ferrigno, that even though Lou still very much keeps in shape, they would want to hire somebody younger. But they didn't. This cartoon is better than the other movie's cartoon, but it will never be Lou. Surely there is someone out there like Lou who could do the part better than a cartoon. Surely there are a few body builders out there who don't kill themselves with steroids and can act.

I don't know why they did this again. Other movies, even movies based on comic books, don't do that. I know that they use a lot of CGI, but for most shots, I think the orange guy in The Fantastic Four is a guy in a suit. And for the most part, Hellboy is Ron Perlman in a ton of makeup. So why can't the Hulk be an actor in the movies?

What else can I say about the movie without plot spoilers? I hate spoilers. I just need to see an interesting preview and hear that someone liked the movie so I'll want to go see it. I don't like to hear anything else about the movie. So if my opinion counts to anyone, there it is. Go see the movie.

There's a lot of cameos and familiar names in this movie. Lou has a cameo. Stan has a cameo, he always does. Even Bill has a cameo at the beginning of the movie, but don't blink or you'll miss it. And there's nothing to be gained by sitting through all the credits. There's this little scene with a cameo from another movie, but they show that right before the credits. All that stuff was fun.

Okay, that's about it. If you were a fan of the TV show I think that you'll like this movie. And if you're not a fan of the show but are a fan of the comic book, I don't know if you'll like it or not. It is significantly better than the previous movie. Ed Norris is in it, Liv Tyler is in it, William Hurt is in it, and they blow up a lot of stuff. Hulk smash! So go see the movie, and if you haven't already done so, go see Ironman too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Memory Problems

One of my fellow bloggers is having memory problems. She went into the hospital for a procedure, and while I guess no one really looks forward to going to the hospital, this was not something that her doctors and family talked her into. She knew that she wasn't going to get any better doing nothing, researched her options, and decided that there was no point in putting off the treatment. She was not well, and she was at least looking forward to getting the hospital thing over with and getting better.

She knew that she'd have some problems. She knew that she shouldn't drive for a while and would have to take a cab home, etc.... But she expected to go home and get some rest and feel better afterwards.

Only now she can't remember stuff. She can't remember a lot of stuff from the past year or so. And now she's having trouble making new memories, and she can't remember stuff that she did like an hour ago.

This might be temporary. She's read about stuff like this happening to other people, and then they get better after a few weeks. On the other hand, no one knows for sure, and she's worried that she might spend the rest of her life being like that guy in the movie Memento.

There are other similar memory problems. One is described in the movie Fifty First Dates. When I first heard about this movie, I thought something like that's too bad, cause there are real people out there with this problem, and someone should make a good movie about it instead of this Adam Sandler crap. Only, after about twenty minutes of Adam Sandler crap, this actually turned out to be a good movie. It's mostly funny, but then you do start to see what it might be like for the family of someone who wakes up everyday thinking that it's a certain date on the calendar, only that date has long past for everyone else. She wakes up everyday thinking that it's her dad's birthday, and since they don't know what else to do, her family and friends all go to great lengths trying to pretend that everyday is her dad's birthday. And we see what it might be like for a person with this problem, if things don't go as planned and she has "a bad day." Then she meets Sandler, who isn't in on this, and her family wants him to go away because he's going to mess up their routine and cause problems. But then they realize that she likes him, and on his day off they still pretend that it's dad's birthday, only maybe she should have lunch or something with this nice guy she just met. After a while, Sandler suggests that they tell her the truth. They make video tapes and she writes notes to herself, and every morning she spends about an hour watching the tapes and reading the notes and being a bit upset, but then she realizes it is the truth and everyone tries to get on with the day. And it doesn't always go as one would hope, but things don't always go as one would hope anyway, even if you don't have this odd memory problem.

So if you can get through the first twenty minutes or so of Adam Sandler crap, watch Fifty First Dates, cause it is a good movie. And while Click isn't really supposed to be about a guy with memory problems, he does seem to have a lot of problems in that area. So that's a good movie to watch too, and it has a lot less crap.

I have seen a real-life guy with this memory problem do the talk show circuit. One day he had an accident or something, and he remembers everything up to that point just fine. But since then he can make new memories for one day, and then he goes to sleep and forgets everything again. Everyday he wakes up thinking that it is that day before the accident happened. That day was like twenty years ago. He's aged, his wife has aged, and his little kids have grown up and moved away. He doesn't know what day it is, he doesn't know who is president, he doesn't know about 9/11, etc.... He writes himself a note that he has to read every morning. This guy is somewhat lucky to be a math teacher, and with some help he can still do his job. Math twenty years later is still math. If he had another job, even say a similar job of being a history teacher, he probably couldn't do it. He could be lecture about something that happened many years ago, and that would probably go okay, but then if a student asked him to compare something in the lecture with Iraq, he wouldn't even understand the question.

While we were having this discussion with the fellow blogger about how she must feel, someone brought up the idea being able to selectively remove memories, like in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In the movie, it didn't quite work. Although the main character thought that he wanted to forget things, his mind rebelled against the procedure and tried all kinds of things to save some of the memories. Still, he signed up for erased memories, and that's what he ended up with. But only his memories were erased, not everyone else's, and while people were warned that he had part of his memory erased, people would occasionally mention something that they weren't supposed to, or someone would say something that just didn't make sense, or he would meet someone who didn't get the memo and talk about the very thing that he didn't want to remember. And after a while, wouldn't that all be very annoying, and wouldn't you get curious and go looking for the very thing that you thought you'd be better off not remembering?

I think that it would be very difficult to pick specific things to forget, but I think in the future that it might be possible to forget specific blocks of time. I think that you would have to make the horrible choice of forgetting everything within a certain amount of time and lose the good with the bad. And to really make it work, you might have to go back to a time before the bad thing happened and forget everything that happened since then. If the bad thing happened yesterday, maybe that would work. But if the bad thing happened a month ago, a year ago, or five years ago, that's a problem.

I have actually given this matter some thought.

About two years ago, some really bad stuff happened to me, and I knew that I'd never get over it. I've tried, but some things just can't be fixed, and some of the things that can be made better I can't do by myself and other people involved refuse to help. So I'm stuck. I can't go back and undo what was done. So I said, from this point on, it would be best if...but that didn't happen either. And a bit after that, I made some decisions and tried to get on with things, but someone interfered with those plans. Later, I made other decisions and made more plans, but again there was interference. So just nothing seems to work out that would allow me to get on with my life, and even on my best day I still have this bad stuff hanging over my head.

About a month before the really bad stuff happened, there was another bad thing that happened. And I had a rough couple of weeks, had some physical problems after that, and just about the time that I started to feel like things were getting better, more bad stuff happened. I've had some health problems since then, and while most of it isn't as bad as it was, it is just always lurking in the background on top of the other bad stuff that I can't seem to get over. The really odd thing is that the week before this was a pretty good week, and while it wasn't my favorite week of all time, it was one of those times when I seriously got to thinking about my life, how it wasn't really what I had wanted it to be, but it wasn't that bad either. And that Saturday was a day that I was thinking how I had a good life, but I was wasting it waiting for things to get better, things that I couldn't fix by myself, so maybe while I was waiting for a time when those things might be better I should concentrate on just things that I enjoyed that I could do without anyone else's help.

And then Sunday there was a really bad flood, and more bad stuff happened later. Wouldn't it be nice if I could just go back to that Saturday. Physically, I can't do that. But if I was given a choice to mentally go back to that Saturday and forget everything that happened after that, would that be a good idea? I don't have a career, or even a job right now, so that's not a problem. I don't have children or even pets right now, so that's not a problem. I'd forget more than two years of my life, the good and the bad, but they were the worst two years of my life. On the best day when I'm on a trip and having a good time, I'm never really at peace like I was before, and I probably never will be again.

If the memories of the last two years were gone, and I felt better and had a good life again, what would I lose? Two Halloween parties and two Christmas seasons would be gone. I have taken four college classes of ceramics and sculpture, and three of those were in the last two years. I was just starting to knit, and I'd have to learn some of that over again. I'd forget two years worth of books and movies. I'd forget about trips that I've taken and people I'd met. I'd forget that my friend J died a few months ago. I'd forget my friend from the great white north.

If that were all, then it would probably be okay. Christmas was good, and I especially thought so of Halloween, but they would be better in the future if I were my old self. I like ceramics, but I liked learning them the first time around and I'd probably like to learn it again, and relearning the knitting wouldn't be as much fun, but I might still do it anyway. Getting to see the good movies of the last two years for the first time again would be a good thing, as would reading the books, though that would take time. I liked the trips, but they are places that I could go again, and be in a better mood and maybe enjoy them more. My friend J would still be dead regardless of my memory, and I'd known for a long time that he could just die at any time.

I had met my friend from the great white north before the bad stuff happened, but we didn't really get to be friends for a while. I think that if I did forget the past two years, he wouldn't, and we would both still like the same things and would end up being friends again. So that wouldn't be so bad. But even if it really meant a choice between having my friend and being a whole person again, I think that I'd have to choose being a whole person again. If it could really work that way, I think it's just too important to get the rest of my life back even if I had to give up parts of life that I like now.

But I don't think that I'd ever get a choice like that. Even if there was a way to safely remove that part of my memory, I don't think that I could do it. I think that without the memories of the last two years, I think that I might do something stupid and maybe end up having things just as bad or maybe worse than they are now.

For one thing, since that Sunday I have had health problems. A lot of little things, but added together they tend to upset things a great deal. I don't want to get into anything too personal, and I don't want to get into the unpleasantness of UTIs and yeast infections and such. So probably the best example I could talk about would be the high blood pressure. That, and a bunch of my little health problems are probably stress related. Like most people, when I started to get older, I started to hear about watching my weight and cholesterol and stuff like that, and I was a bit concerned about becoming a diabetic if I didn't cut back on the junk food, but I was not ever in any danger of anything blood pressure related. I'd always been told how good it was. And then suddenly it was up twenty points, and maybe sometimes it was up thirty points. My own personal theory was that my blood pressure was up temporarily because I was upset about the other problems, and the high blood pressure problem would go away if I could just deal with the other stuff. My doctor at the time did not agree and gave me some meds. She did little to help me with the stuff I was actually worried about. She would upset me by trying to talk me out of tests that I wanted, by asking over and over again why I thought something was a problem and why I needed the tests. The questions were embarrassing enough the first time, and it really upset me to keep having to tell her over and over again. In the end I did not get all of the tests I asked for, I had to go somewhere else and pay extra for some of the tests, and I really didn't feel like I was going to get better under her care. So what happened with the blood pressure is that when I would test it myself at a drugstore or something it wasn't as good as it had been before, but it wasn't really bad either, but it went up when it was taken at a clinic or something, and then it really went up a lot whenever I had to deal with this particular doctor.

I thought that pretty much confirmed my suspicions that it was temporary, that my blood pressure was going up because I was worrying about other health problems, and this doctor was just making my pressure go up even more because she wasn't listening to me. The medicine she gave me for the high blood pressure didn't seem to be doing anything, and I quit taking it. A year later, I still have some health problems, but not as much as I did, and when I had my last checkup my blood pressure was back to the healthy level it was before all this happened.

But I still have to check it once in a while, just to be sure. So what if I forgot the last two years? While a lot of my health problems seem to be stress-related, and those would probably get better, what if some of them didn't get better or got worse cause I didn't know to check something? What if the high blood pressure comes back because of something else and I don't remember that I have to check it and I have a stroke or something?

What if something bad happened to a person and after that the person was paranoid or couldn't do his job or couldn't go on a date or was terrified of going out after dark or couldn't even leave the house. If you could remove the memory of that week or so when the bad thing happened, would the person get better? If something happened to make a person paranoid or terrified of the dark or whatever, and the memory of the thing itself is removed, but they still remember that something happened to make them paranoid or terrified of the dark, do they recover or does it still worry them that something did happen to them even if they don't really remember the thing itself?

We've all had things happen that we wish hadn't happened. And we think that if we had been armed with the right information at the right time, we could have prevented it or at least limited whatever trouble might come after. If you remove your memories of a certain block of time so that you forget something bad, would you just end up getting into that same mess again? And in a way, all knowledge is power, so if you remove your memories of a certain time, might you deprive yourself of something else that you might need in the future? If you are in a terrible car wreck, and you had a painful recovery, maybe you could just forget the time you were in the wreck and the hospital stay and such that followed, and not remember anything until you are well again. What if while you were recovering you watched the news and heard about some scam and saw a drawing of a suspected serial killer, and you forget that period of time, and after you are well you fall for some scam that everyone else knew about, or you went on a date with someone who's picture you should have recognized?

So, for the most part I don't think it is going to work out even after we have the technology to do this. And we have already seen how unsafe some of our current medical treatments are, so we can only imagine that future ones will not always work properly either.

Still, one can't help wishing it could somehow work.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And now back to our regularly scheduled program

Well, I know that it must seem like I've spent the last four days doing nothing but blogging and listening to people vent about a certain convention being canceled, but that really isn't the case. All things considered, I guess that I've had a pretty good weekend. Nothing really special, but I did enjoy most of it.

We watched Fringe. Bad Robot. Good show. Enough said.

Okay, so I'll probably come back later and write another post about Fringe, but for now I'll just say that I think I'm going to like the show. We also managed to go and see both The Incredible Hulk on Friday and The Happening on Sunday. I should post about both movies, but it will have to be later.

And we watched the usual stuff like Doctor Who and of course the new Battlestar Galactica. It seems strange now that we had time to do all that in addition to going out a few times and actually doing just a little bit of shopping. And that's just the stuff that we did together. While he was out I watched most of the last half of The Tripods (though episodes 10 and 25 seem to be missing), and the first half of Chocky. And I read Heroes: Saving Charlie. I used to read all of the time, but now it seems to be a rare thing. I don't have the patience for it, or I can't concentrate, and most annoying is the situation with my eyesight. I have to remove my glasses and read with the book just so, right in front of my face. Not that I didn't often read with the book pretty close to my face anyway, but now I have no choice in the matter, and if I move the book more than an inch or move my head to get into a more comfortable position, I can't see well enough to read.

So with all that I didn't manage to do anything useful like cleaning or sorting. Actually, I did, just not that much. Getting this mess under control rather seems like trying to move a mountain with a teaspoon. But I've decided to go ahead and move the mountain a teaspoon at a time, but mainly just during commercial breaks. I only get a little bit done, but I was only ever just getting a little bit done anyway, and this way I do something everyday and don't just get frustrated with the whole thing and give up. So when I remember the events of the day I don't have a mental picture of trying to do the impossible and doing a lot of work and getting no results from it, I remember watching The Tripods or some movie I haven't seen since I was a kid or reading something, and doing a bit of work between watching TV or reading chapters. And then at the end of the week I can actually see where I've gotten something done. It's not much, but it's something. Better than me sitting around all day complaining that it's too hot to do anything.

I've gotten another bag of clothes ready to send to Goodwill. I've boxed up about two-thirds of my video tapes. And I have finally figured out how to properly store a certain odd shaped costume. I'm not sure how old this costume is, but I only wore it the one time, and I think it is pre-9/11. Still, I worked hard on it, and I can't stand the thought of tossing it out. But part of it is an odd shape, and part of it is too big to fit into the 18 gallon storage boxes that most of the other stuff is in. Most of the time it has been in my closet, hanging at an odd angle, and taking up a lot of space. But I couldn't figure out how else to store it. There are different plastic storage containers that it might fit in, but they are so much more expensive than the 18 gallon totes, and of course if I bought one of those it wouldn't stack properly with the 18 gallon totes. And as many times as the place has flooded, I couldn't just put it in a cardboard box. After Christmas I got the idea that maybe the main part of it that didn't fit into the 18 gallon totes would fit in one of those plastic round boxes made for storing wreaths, but that didn't quite work out either. So the costume has been sitting in my closet, at an odd angle, taking up space.

After the incident of seeing the mouse in the closet, I decided to move the costume. And I finally decided that maybe the best thing was to just put it in a long cardboard box and be done with it. I think that I have finally fixed the flooding problem, so it should be okay stored in cardboard, but if not, I'll probably never wear it again anyway and if it is flood damaged I will then at least be able to make myself get rid of it.

So off I went to buy one of those over-sized long cardboard storage boxes, but I couldn't find any. They didn't have any at Target, and they didn't have any at Garden Ridge. And I guess it's been years since I've bought such a thing, so maybe just no one wants them anymore. I wasn't going to waste the day going to different stores looking for boxes. It's waited this long, so it can wait a bit more til I just happen to be in the right store for some other reason.

And then Sunday while we were out, I found a really big cardboard box. It was way too big for my purpose, and it was really too big to do much of anything else with either. But I thought that I'd take it home and cut up the cardboard to use later. And then I thought as long as I was now okay with putting the costume in cardboard, how about trying to make something out of this cardboard. So that's what I did, and it now fits in the closet and hardly takes up any space at all.

Okay, that's not much, but that's something that I've been trying to figure out for like five years and I finally got it done yesterday. I think the plan is going to work.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And a few more thoughts on Fedconusa

One of the vendors who went to Fedconusa has decided to sell Dedcon T-shirts. I'm not going to copy the entire thing, but I will at least copy the contact info at the end of my post, and the included list of other area conventions. I like the idea of this person making money from selling these T-shirts because a.) after the what happened this weekend it would be nice of one of the good guys did make some money, and b.) this is probably someone who used to work at GalaxyFair.

After I wrote my first post about Fedconusa (which I really did not expect to be read by many people other than my regular readers), I was left a comment from a certain Michael Nelson, who is one of the people in charge of our local fan run convention Fencon. He was concerned that people would get Fencon confused with this Fedconusa, since most of us were just saying Fedcon instead of Fedconusa, and Fedcon and Fencon sound a lot alike. So he left me and some other people this comment, and I didn't think that many people would see it on my blog, so I copied it to someplace where I thought that it might do more good.

And I was very surprised at the negative responses. Okay, I don't know those people on those other forums who were accusing Michael of pretending to have a problem so that he could get attention and sell a few more tickets to his convention, so I don't know if that's just the type of behavior that one should expect. But I was really surprised to get negative responses from people that I know. I know people who go to this convention, and come to think of it, I even know a few people who work at Fencon, and I really expected the comment to get more positive responses. But there was actually someone making fun of Michael, saying that the mighty Fedcon has been around for sixteen years and that no one is really going to get Fedconusa confused with his little fan run convention.

Well, I for one had heard of Fencon before, but had never heard of Fedcon. Fedcon is in Europe. I don't know about what goes on in Europe. I know so little about what goes on across the ocean that last week I was pleasantly surprised to find out that twenty years ago a TV show was made based on the novel Chocky by my favorite author John Wyndham. So I'd never heard of Fedcon, and I don't think that it's unreasonable to think that other fans here had never heard of Fedcon, and that we might have heard of our local Fencon, and some people might be confused.

And the other point of ridicule seemed to be that no one could get Fencon confused with Fedconusa. They don't sound anything alike, and Fedconusa has three extra letters. Except that most people weren't saying or writing out the whole Fedconusa. I never heard anyone call it that. For the most part people had shortened it to Fedcon, thinking that they were actually going to a Fedcon run convention, and no was saying Fedconusa until this weekend when the real Fedcon wanted distance from Fedconusa. So Fencon and Fedcon do look alike and sound alike and I have no doubt that people were getting confused and contacting Fencon by mistake. The names are similar, and they are both in the Dallas area, so people get confused. There was no reason to make fun of the people who were confused, and there was no reason to make fun of Michael by saying he was pretending that people were confused to get attention for Fencon.

But while we are on that subject, how about a little attention for fan run cons. They need all that they can get. They usually don't make that much money, and if they do make any money they often take that money and try to have another convention the next year. Fan run conventions are possible because a lot of people volunteer time and effort, sometimes donate artwork and materials for stuff like fliers and websites, etc.... And a few of those people put up a lot of their own money to get the thing started. So if the convention doesn't make enough money, they just don't get that money back. They could be out thousands of dollars. Then what? They put off going to the dentist that year, they cancel their vacation, they don't get to fix the roof that starts to leak, they get behind on their credit card bills, etc.... And they don't have a lot of money to start with, so most of their advertising is usually ads put up at the comic book store and fliers handed out and clubs and other conventions.

It's almost all word of mouth for them, so maybe while we're talking about this stuff, we should talk about fan run conventions for a bit. We used to have something called GalaxyFair, and it was great, but it's gone now. And we used to have something called StellarOccasions, and I loved it, but it's not around anymore either. And there's something called All-Con, which is still around, but a few years ago it took a hit when there was a flood and the hotel roof leaked. So let's hear it for the fan run conventions, and let's hope that we don't lose anymore of them.


Because I can do it (and partially to mitigate my losses for the weekend) we will be producing a limited edition commemorative t-shirt that says “I got FRAKKED at F(crossed out)DedCon USA! anyone interested in obtaining one of these needs to contact me by Thur 6/19/08 as I’ll be printing and mailing them next weekend. My email is

The direct link to order our "Commemorative" shirt is

100% Cotton Red Shirt with Black Print.
We came..., the fans came... The hotel threw us out.
Limited Edition T-Shirt. Commemorating the 2008 FEDCON USA debacle wherein an inexperienced under capitalized promoter tried to put on a large scale media convention that was abruptly cut short.

Design ©Pegasus Publishing. All Rights Reserved."

There are a lot of good SF/Fantasy/Anime conventions around the country and particularly in Texas. I would like to hope that the first time attendees who were burned by this unscrupulous promoter to please please give conventions another try. They really are a lot of fun. Here is a small list of DFW area shows. DallasComicCon/SciFiExpo (; FenCon (; ConDFW (; All-Con (; Project A-Kon (; Texas Frightmare Weekend (; AnimeFest (; Portus (; Texas FearFest ( And for those of you who travelled up from South Texas I recommend Apollo-Con Jun 27-29 ( in Houston.

Scott Merritt

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Since my last post is getting so much attention...

I have a few more words to say about Fedconusa.

I have already mentioned how Aaron Douglas tried to warn fans that he might not actually be at the convention, since he was still waiting on plane tickets and such. The fans who actually got word of this appreciate his efforts, but unfortunately most people showed up at the convention without having any clue that anything was wrong.

The organizers of our local Fencon are really hoping that people do not get them confused with Fedconusa, since when most of us were talking about Fedconusa we shortened it to Fedcon. These are all separate groups. Fedconusa was a one time thing, Fedcon is a respected group in Germany that has been in business for sixteen years, and Fencon is our local Dallas group that has put on an annual convention for about five years. If I remember correctly, past guests of Fencon include David Gerrold, Larry Niven, and S.M.Stirling.

So far, my friends do not have refunds, and are not holding their breaths.

When the stars arrived at the convention and found out that they weren't going to get paid, they stayed anyway.

Anne Lockhart (Sheba from the original Battlestar Galactica) saw the Fedconusa website and saw that she was scheduled to appear. Not having heard how Aaron Douglas and other actors had not been paid or sent plane tickets, etc...she made her own travel plans, thinking that there had been an error and all would be straightened out once she got here. That's right. She paid for her own plane tickets and hotel rooms. Once she got here she found out that she wasn't getting paid and she wasn't getting reimbursed for her travel expenses, but she stayed and signed autographs and such.

A dealer I know didn't arrive at the convention until Saturday morning. About ten minutes after he finished setting up his table, he's told that the convention is canceled and he has to take it all down and leave.

While someone in the main room made the announcement that the convention was being canceled, some of the volunteers hadn't been told, and they were still selling tickets to the convention.

The hotel allowed one convention room to stay in use on Saturday, and most of the stars went there to sign autographs. John Billingsley even continued to honor the Gold Pass and did not charge those people any additional money for autographs, though some of the fans went ahead and paid him anyway. Actors JG Hertzler and Robert O'Reiley found out that the convention was canceled while they were halfway through having their Klingon makeup put on. They finished having the makeup put on and went on with the autograph and photo session. Garrett Wang (Ensign Kim) "stole" a photo, and the Klingons chased him around the room.

Anyway, the actors tried to save the show and see that the fans had a bit of fun. Still, the people who were there are calling it Frak-con or Dead-con.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Felgercarb has hit the fan

Seems like about a year and a half ago that one of my friends mentioned something called Fedcon. They had heard that Fedcon put on some really nice sci-fi conventions in Europe, and that they were planning something in the Dallas area. Great. But it looked a little expensive for my tastes, and I'm not as into conventions as I once was, but we'll see.

So Fedconusa was having their convention at one of the hotels at DFW airport this weekend. My friends have all been looking forward to this for most of the year. But when I saw it was at the airport I pretty much lost interest. I hate driving in Dallas, and I feel the same about the airport (toll booths and parking fees and I don't know where I'm going and I'll get run over by someone else who drives there on a regular basis.) And I didn't want to spent the money. $45 just for Saturday, $99 for the whole weekend, and of course a couple of my friends wanted the $269 Gold Pass and bought extra tickets for the dinners and such with the stars. I didn't want to part with my $45, and that other stuff was way out of my price-rage. I all but put it out of my mind.

It's been so long since I was really into conventions that I totally forgot to look into the option of volunteering. And I also forgot that we now have a train that goes to the airport. I maybe could have done that if I had thought of it in time. I usually get picked if I volunteer because right now I don't have a job and can work on Friday. Problem is, if you are working the four hours that you want to be doing something at the convention, is it worth the effort for the free ticket that you don't enjoy that much? Sometimes, there is something else in it for the volunteers, like a special arrangement for autographs, so it's usually okay. Sometimes my friends buy the expensive tickets AND volunteer.

This week while I was reading all the emails from my excited friends, I was starting to regret my decision to stay home. But, I figured that a week before the convention was too late to ask about volunteering. I have been out of the loop, somewhat deliberately on my part, and this is what happens sometimes. Don't cry about it, just go on with the original plans of watching movies and cleaning and such for the weekend.

On Thursday, a friend made one last attempt to get me to go to this thing if I wanted to buy a ticket for Saturday. He offered to drive me and everything, if I was up for the party scheduled til 2am. And he doesn't live anywhere near me, so that's a bit of a drive, especially to take me home at 2am. But, no, thanks anyway.

Yesterday I went to see The Incredible Hulk and did some cleaning and some sorting and then watched several episodes of The Tripods. And then I was checking my email, and there's strange things going on at the airport.

People went to buy their Saturday only tickets and were charged $57. The website says $45. There are often different prices for advance tickets and at the door tickets, but if the website says $45 after the convention starts, you'd think that the prices on the website would be the at the door price.

Some of the guests that were scheduled to be there weren't there. Other guests weren't paid. Some guests didn't get their plane tickets. Guests were scheduled, then dropped because of scheduling problems, then put back on the schedule after the time conflicts were resolved, but now they aren't at the convention. The guy in charge of the event is having back problems and is going to the hospital instead of the convention.

A lot of people were going to this convention specifically to see Aaron Douglas, who plays Chief Tyrol on the new Battlestar Galactica. He was one of the guests who was on the schedule and then off and then back on. He was dropped this week, apparently knew nothing about it, and was waiting for plane tickets which never arrived. Here's a quote from Mr. Douglas--

"This is the most unprofessional, egregious behaviour that I have ever seen
displayed. FedconUSA you make Creation look like Shoreleave or Dragoncon,
two of the finest run conventions a fan will ever attend."

Most of my regular readers won't understand, but this is quite a serious insult. I read it and thought that's really bad, but apparently if you've heard Mr. Douglas talk about Creation the insult is meant to be even worse than it first seemed to me. He had more to say, but I won't quote the rest of it. I think that some people will soon be trying to take advantage of Mr. Douglas after something else that he said, and I'm not going to add to the problem by telling anybody else who doesn't already know what he said. Not his fault, and everyone should leave him alone. Besides, he's a guy who likes fans, likes going to conventions, and I think that most everyone who wants to see him or get his autograph or whatever will have many other opportunities to do so.

What else? Yesterday was Friday the 13th, and everyone now says that they should have known better. And it turns out that Fedconusa is not run by the same people as Fedcon in Germany. People were trying to warn the fans since August, but most of them did not get the message. People with dealer tables are losing money, even though I heard that they didn't actually pay to rent the tables. It is still a weekend that they wasted being at a con now filled with unhappy people. Unhappy people do not buy stuff.

Besides the up to $269 that some people paid for Gold Passes, and extra money that they might have spent on dinners with the stars and such, many people have paid for hotel rooms and airplane tickets or spent lots of time and gas driving from other parts of Texas or maybe Oklahoma. If they paid for the actual convention stuff with a credit card, they should eventually get that money back, but the money spent on gas and hotels and such is probably just gone.

So I'm reading the emails of how bad it was yesterday and how volunteers today should be prepared to deal with lots of angry fans and how the convention isn't going well so if you haven't already paid for tickets you should probably just forget it and stay home. And while I'm sitting here reading the emails a few more pop up. The convention has been cancelled.

The convention has been canceled? But it already started.

Then there's a message from the guy in the hospital who is supposed to be in charge of the thing saying that everyone who bought a ticket today is getting their money back, and that it will take some time but the advance tickets will be refunded as well.

That does nothing for the people who spent time and gas, rented hotel rooms, or bought plane tickets.

I'm glad that I ended up staying home. Except for not being able to find the last episode of The Tripods, I think I'm having a pretty good weekend.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I like mice, but not in my kitchen

When I was about ten and lived with my parents about two hours drive from where a live now, a mouse got into the house. Or maybe it was two mice. Anyway, from my parents reaction, you would think that it was the end of the world. My parents more or less declared war on the mice and bought traps and such and seemed to spend an awful lot of time and effort trying to kill a couple of really small helpless animals.

At the time it seemed really cruel, since to me the little animals did not seem that different from my brother's hamster. I couldn't believe that my mother was doing this, and my father seemed to be angry a lot of the time. I was having no part of this business. Once they were chasing the poor thing down the hall, and I happened to be at the end of the hall, and I was yelled at for not preventing the thing from escaping into it's hole.

After a week or two of this they caught two mice in traps and announced that was probably all of the adults, and that if there were any babies that they were probably too small to live by themselves and would probably soon die. My parents had intentionally killed something and were happy about it. I didn't want to be around them for another week or so.

Once in a while we had some ants come in the house, and a cricket would get in and make everyone crazy for a night or two, and a few other bugs would come in. We intentionally brought in a praying mantis if we could catch one, and we brought in cicadas and such in jars, but we had no serious bug problems in the house. We did not have infestations. We did not have roaches. At least three times a year my father sprayed the house. That is not to say that my father did the normal thing of going to the store and buying a few cans of Raid. My father had this stuff that sort of looked like diving equipment and put serious amounts of chemicals all around the house. We did not have roaches. I am not sure that I had ever even seen a roach.

I briefly had a job at a pet store and spent a lot of time looking at mice and rats. I think that they're cute. They are not quite the same cute as a hamster, but a bunch of little mice together are really funny. They run all over the cage really fast and jump on things and jump over each other and run around in their wheels. Hamsters look quite lazy in comparison.

Anyway, the mice in the store are fun to watch, and except for the fact that they are white and black instead of grey and brown, they do not look much different from those that sometimes get into someone's house.

I got married. I had seen on TV whenever some young person would leave home for the first time that they either moved into a college dorm full of drunken idiots, or they would move into some tiny awful apartment with lots of roaches and such. And while I did not move into a tiny awful apartment, I did move into a small house that looked awful. But I didn't see any roaches, and I didn't see any mice. I thought that some effort into cleaning and painting and such would make me like the house better. In any case, I didn't care that much, cause I was married and finally moving out of my parents house and I had...other things...on my mind.

Neither of us were neat freaks before we got married, so it was a bit much to expect that either of us were going to volunteer to do lots of cleaning after we were married. Still, life goes on even when neither of us can be bothered to pick up socks or towels or make the bed, etc.... And, spontaneous generation has long been disproved, and frogs do not magically appear from mud, and roaches do not magically appear if one does not pick up socks.

I was soon talked into joining my husband in an odd hobby. He used to go to estate sales and garage sales and buy odd things to resale later. This was supposed to be something that we were going to do for a few months just to see if I liked the idea. It was okay at first, but I quickly grew tired of it. The house was already so small that I could not have normal things like living room furniture, and now we were walking around boxes and boxes of junk from sales that I didn't even want. Since this was supposed to be something that we weren't going to do anymore if I ever decided I didn't like it, after three months I said that I didn't like it. No more junk. I quit.

My husband did not recall this conversation when he asked if we could continue his little hobby on the condition that we stop whenever I wanted. He continued to fill the house with junk for resale. At the time it didn't occur to me that he was just lying to get his own way. I actually thought that he didn't remember, and that I shouldn't make a big deal about it. I just got married. I didn't want to have a big fight, and I certainly didn't want a divorce. I was in love.

So there was all of this junk, and I brought some things from my parents house, and he had some things from his mom's house. And somewhere in one of these boxes there were a few little visitors. Okay, these are roaches. They don't seem so terrible. They're not like spiders or anything. And apparently my husband had seen roaches before. He'd seen a lot of them. But here there weren't so many of them. You just step on them and get on with things.

Okay, maybe that would have been a good time to ask my dad to come by with serious amounts of chemicals. Except that I really don't think that would have helped us. I think that we brought the roaches inside ourselves with the boxes of junk, and spraying all the chemicals outside would have just poisoned our garden. Killing the bugs inside would have required spraying inside, which would have made the house unlivable for at least a week or two, and I didn't want to do that. Besides, my husband still insisted on being a junk dealer, and he would have just brought more of the things inside anyway.

Now the problem is starting to get serious. And while spontaneous generation still does not occur, and roaches do not magically appear under towels and socks that one forgets to pick up, they do make the most of the dishes you neglected to wash the night before and the trash that you can't take out til Wednesday. The bugs decided to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die. And while you're at it have try to have sex and lay eggs first.

So we had a serious roach problem, and we were trying to deal with it in ways that didn't smell too bad, though we did keep cans of Raid and such when it seemed to be more of a problem than usual, and if we were going out of town or something we would use foggers.

About that time I saw a mouse. I didn't want to kill it, but I wanted to catch it and take it outside. And I did that, but I guess it had some friends.

It took me a long time to figure out that I was going to have a serious problem with the mice. My first thought was actually something like worry that the mice would get sick and die from eating the roaches we had killed with poison.

After relocating a few more mice, a couple of rats got in. I gave up and bought some traps and some poison. That seemed to deal with most of it, though once in a while more would come in. Later, we got a cat, so we got rid of the poison and moved the traps to places that the cat couldn't reach. And while we did not intentionally get the cat to deal with the rodent problem, he did turn out to be an excellent mouse hunter.

Later, we moved to an apartment. I tried to be careful about moving stuff to the new place. I tried to get rid of a lot of junk, and a tried to wash most of the stuff that I did move, and I didn't move anything in old boxes. So we didn't bring any bugs or mice with us to the new place. We never had any rodents in the apartment, maybe because it was on the second floor, and the few bugs that came in were quickly dealt with by some Raid product.

I was very happy in my apartment, but my husband wasn't, so we moved into a duplex. After several years of not having to deal with many bugs or any rodents, I'd forgotten what a hassle it was to get rid of them. There are a few bugs, which are mostly dealt with, though once in a while they become very annoying in the evening, and the occasional cricket gets in and makes us crazy.

And then I saw a mouse. And I thought that I would catch it and take it outside. Which I did, but it had friends. Even after having this problem before I still a bit slow doing anything about it. I bought a few traps, which did not work this time. I have finally decided that it is time for poison.

I do not have a cat or any other pet at the moment, so the poison isn't a problem there. But if you use poison instead of traps, there is the problem of not knowing where the dead rodents are. At the moment only mice are the problem, which is not as bad as having rats. But even dead mice smell a bit, so if you don't find them right away that is a bit annoying.

Still, it had to be done. I feel like a terrible person for killing small helpless animals, and while they are dying I'm complaining when they don't die at a convenient time and place. I have found a few dead little bodies, and I have cleaned up a few places where they used to live. I didn't see any live mice for a bit.

But I am of the opinion that if there a few mice that you do see there a probably more that you don't see. And it isn't rocket science to figure out that if something was in a certain place and it isn't there anymore, it is probably in another place. But I thought that if I wasn't seeing them in the kitchen, the bedroom, or the bathroom that the remaining problem was probably in the back room.

So I had found a box of books that the mice had destroyed. The box was one of those cardboard boxes made for holding files, with holes cut into the sides to be used as handles. So it was quite easy for mice to get into those type of boxes. And, since other boxes are cardboard, they could make their own holes in any that they really wanted to get into. I moved anything that I really thought was important into plastic boxes and decided that the magazines and such in the remaining file boxes weren't worth worrying about. But I checked them once in a while, looking for mice, and did not find any. So I thought that except for the back room, I was probably safe for the moment, and I went back to the business of sorting through junk and deciding which items of clothing I could part with, etc....

So last week I mostly finished sorting through the clothes and putting them into plastic boxes with different labels, and if something didn't fit into one of the boxes it was probably something I didn't really need and could get rid of. I did this was all of the folding clothes. A while back I had already done something similar with the clothes hanging in the closet, so I didn't really need to look at those. But Sunday, as I was about to pat myself on the back for dealing with the clothes and move onto the books, I decided that I should at least have a look in the closet, so that I could truthfully say that I had sorted through all of my clothes.


And there was a mouse. Not on the floor of the closet, but climbing up my husband's suit. How did he even get up there?

I took the suit outside and tried to get the mouse to go somewhere else. He was quite determined to stay on the suit. While I was trying to convince it that running off into the grass really was his best option, another mouse turned up inside the suit. I finally got both of them onto the grass, checked the suit to make sure there were no more and went back inside. To be on the safe side I took all of the clothes out of the closet and inspected them outside. I found no more mice. I did, however, find what they were after. My purse was hanging in the closet, and the last time I had used the purse or worn anything in the closet was the funeral a couple of months ago, when I had a bit of a sore throat and had put several cough drops and starlight mints in the purse.

Okay, I think that I should wash everything in the closet. After closer inspection, I did find that I could live without just a few more things there were hanging up. Other than that, I finished sorting the clothes and can now concentrate on something else. We went to the store and bought some more poison. I hope this is over soon.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Free Movies and TV

About a week ago I got an email from a friend of a friend telling us all about a website that linked to free movies we could watch on the computer. Cool. Sometimes the quality isn't so great. Sometimes it's a copy of a copy. And the recent stuff probably came from someone who copied the movie with his cell phone. I'm not watching that stuff. But there's some stuff that I have missed, and some stuff that I haven't seen in a really long time. It's been fun.

So this site is mostly movies, and I was wondering if maybe there was something that had old TV shows. I thought that I found something that had The Bionic Woman, but then it turned out just to be the remake. Rats.

I looked around a bit more. This time I tried looking for Otherworld, which was about ten episodes of something that would have been like Lost In Space, only without the space. And, lucky me, I found it here.

Sometimes, the Internet really rocks.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Once in a while I say something important

Readership is down. Or, at least, I think the number of people reading my blog is down. I haven't really been keeping up. But I am guessing it is down because I am not spending as much time blogging, when I do write something on the blog it is mostly diary type stuff (and since there's not much of interest going on around here that tends to be stuff about cleaning and such), I haven't done many Monday Moron posts in a while, and I haven't been keeping up with the tracking stuff and doing Freaky Fridays. All that stuff tends to add up to less people reading the blog. But that's okay, cause the blog is supposed to be for me, to make me feel better, not a chore that I have to do so I'll have a bunch of readers.

Once in a while, on rarer occasions now, I write about something sort of important. I do a post about 911 or religion or why everyone should have sole custody of one child, etc.... So yesterday I wrote a bit about jury duty, and I guess that sort of counts as a post about something important.

Anyway, I woke up earlier than I wanted today, so I got up and looked at the tracker. I saw that someone had read my blog, and that the referrer was I guess that they Google everyone who blogs about jury service and then copy any interesting bits on their blog. So parts of yesterday's blog were copied. Cool.

Okay, now back to diary stuff and the usual drivel.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Jury Duty

Seeing as a few of my fellow bloggers had to deal with this recently, I thought I'd say a bit about it.

I might be repeating a few things that I've said before. When we first got married, my husband and I agreed that neither of us would vote. And neither of us would register to vote. My family tended to vote republican, and his family usually went with the democrats, and if we kept voting that way we would just cancel each other out. And there was no point in doing that, especially since at the time the potential juror list was taken from the list of registered voters.

So after making this decision that should have gotten us out of jury duty for a while, his mother decided that he wasn't old enough to decide such things for himself, and she filled out and mailed in his voter registration card for him. This was especially strange, since at the time she did not mail in her own voter registration card, had no plans to vote or even register to vote herself, and she hadn't voted for anyone or anything in several years. So there is this little card that any idiot can fill out to register to vote, and anybody's mother can fill out the card against her child's wishes, but there is no card to fill out to unregister.

So of course even though he did not vote and did not even register to vote, he was called for jury duty. And he did not work someplace that pays for you to take time off to go to the courthouse. And on top of all that, his job at the time was as a night security guard, and he wasn't normally awake during the Monday through Friday nine to five hours when most of juror duty takes place.

So that was going to be a big hassle no matter what. On the card that one gets in the mail saying you have jury duty, there are a couple of boxes that you can check off and send in the card to get out of jury duty. One of them is that you've been called by mistake and don't live in that county anymore, and that requires you telling where you do actually live so that your name can be added to that place. Another way of getting out of jury duty is that you are older than a certain age. And there are other boxes to check off if you are the primary caregiver of an elderly parent or sick child or something.

There are no boxes to check off if you work for someplace that doesn't pay for time off during jury duty. There are no boxes to check off if this will cause some financial hardship and you will end up taking to a life of crime to make up for the money you'd lose if you had to take time off to be a juror. There are no boxes to check off if you already know that you'll be out of town during that time.

And there are no boxes to check off if you are normally asleep during the day and cannot possibly be awake and alert enough to actually be of any use as a juror.

If you have some problem and cannot be a juror for some reason that there isn't a little box for, you call a number and explain to someone what your problem is. They probably won't do anything about it, but you can call anyway. If you know that you will be out of town or are having surgery that day, they might reschedule, but that's about it. Any other problems you have to go tell it to a judge on that day that you've been called to jury duty.

So my half awake husband had to go to the courthouse, and half awake me felt bad for him and went with him. That first day there were a lot of local politicians handing out buttons and bumper stickers and such, so someone was standing in front of the sign that said only jurors could be in that room, and I went in without knowing that I wasn't allowed to be there. And anyway, at the time we were thinking that we'd only be there for half an hour or so, just long enough to explain the problem and get excused and go home. But you can't talk to the judge when you get there. There's this whole thing of filling out forms and watching videos and getting sworn in and such. And then the judge will listen to anyone who can't serve.

But basically, you really don't get to go home unless you have one of the excuses that there was a box for. Not that you're really older or anything, just that when you got the summons you thought you'd serve anyway, but after having thought about it some you've decided that if being old is an acceptable excuse you might as well use it. Or maybe your elderly parent or sick child wasn't very sick when you got the summons, but the situation is worse now. Or maybe you didn't know that you were going to be out of town, but now you have to get on a plane after lunch. That sort of thing. They still don't care about your financial hardships. They still don't care that you are just barely paying your rent and that missing a week or so of work would make you homeless. This does not get you out of jury duty.

So my husband goes and tells the judge that he works nights and is very tired and isn't going to be awake during the trial, so they should get someone else. That apparently isn't a good enough reason to get out of jury duty. While it is true that he would not be very useful as a juror and the judges and lawyers on both sides should all be glad to be rid of him, he still has to tell each individual judge why he can't serve as a juror on that particular trial. And then they send him back to the waiting room so some he can be selected to serve as a juror on some other trial, and then he has to explain the whole thing all over again to some other judge, who then probably tells him to go back to the waiting room.

You have to do this all day, until you are on a panel that gets the rest of the day off. So that happened right about lunch time. He got on a panel, and he was given some forms to fill out and told to come back the next day.

So the next day we go back with the forms all filled out. My husband worked half a shift that night. He was tired and I was tired, but again we thought that maybe since most of the picking jurors stuff was done on Monday that he'd be able to talk to a judge that would finally let him go home. So we walked to the room were the potential jurors wait, and that's when I found out that I wasn't supposed to be there. So I waited outside for about an hour, and then everyone on that jury panel was given some more forms to fill out and told to go home til nine the next morning. He still didn't get to talk to the judge for that trial.

Wednesday I didn't bother going with him, since I wasn't supposed to be in that room. Again, my husband waits around for a few hours and they fill out some more forms that ask if there is any reason he wouldn't be able to serve as a juror on that trial. Yes, I work nights, and I will be asleep during the whole thing. But I guess no one believes him. The people on the jury panel are given more forms and told to go home for the day.

My husband keeps working while all of this is going on. He worked half a shift on Monday, just cause he happened to be scheduled that way, and the rest of the week he worked eight hours or more each night and then walked into the courthouse half-asleep. They finally let him go that Thursday and paid him like twenty-four dollars for the week. Not that anyone finally had any sense, but just that about half of the people were let go because they'd heard about the trial on TV or had relatives in law enforcement as such as that.

So that was a horrible week, even if he never had to stay at the courthouse past noon, and he never had to hear any of the trial.

Someone decided that getting the list of potential jurors from the voter registration list was a bad idea. They switched to getting people from a list of licensed drivers in the county. Not everyone wants to vote, but almost everyone has to drive. And even if you don't drive you have to go to the place and get an ID card. Getting an ID card also puts you on the list of potential jurors.

About two years after I got married, something went wrong with my car. It cost a lot of money to fix the car, and the car was old and probably not worth the effort. We figured out that my part-time job wasn't doing much other than paying for this car, which I mainly used to go to my part-time job. My husband talked me into giving up my health insurance and not working anymore, and the next time my car needed serious repairs we would just have it hauled away. This later turned out to be a bad idea, but it seemed to make sense at the time.

So a bit after we had my car hauled away, I got a summons for jury duty. And I didn't have a car, and I didn't have much in the way of friends after I quit going to school and quit having a job. The friends that I did have did not live near me. If I went anywhere it was with my husband, or at least, my husband had to drive me if I went anywhere. And so I got this jury summons, and it was for Monday, and at the time my husband worked twelve hours on Monday and had to leave for work at about six in the morning. So I had no way of getting to the courthouse at nine in the morning unless maybe I took a cab, which I have never done because a.) I was scared to get in the car with a total stranger, and b.) I didn't have any money to ride in a cab.

So I called the number on the jury summons card and explained that I didn't have a car and I didn't live anywhere near a bus stop and I didn't have any way of getting to the courthouse on a Monday. Could I have it rescheduled? When did I want it rescheduled? Oh, maybe on a Thursday after one, or anytime on a Friday.

They don't have jury summons on Thursdays and Fridays. The juries are mostly picked on Mondays, and on a busy week also Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But Thursday or Friday was out of the question.

Well, you should just take me off the list until further notice.

I was told that if I didn't report for jury service at nine on Monday morning there would be a warrant issued for my arrest.

Really, they can spare a couple of police officers and a police car to arrest me for not going to the courthouse, but they can't spare that same police car at nine in the morning to give me a ride to the courthouse.

After getting very upset I was told that the courthouse was open long before the trials actually started. Couldn't someone just give me a ride earlier that morning? Of course, but it would be very early, like maybe six or even five-thirty. Would the building be open that early?

I was assured that it would be, and I agreed to be there.

I was lied to. The building was not open. I was left alone in front of the courthouse a hour before the building was unlocked. And while it was not the dead of winter, at five-thirty in the morning it is dark and cold outside.

I walked a couple of blocks away and was lucky to find that the Tandy Center was open. Some of the breakfast places opened at six. I had something to eat and a soda and found someplace to sit and read a book. Later, the library opened, and I got another book.

A bit before nine I headed back to the court house and had my belongs searched. They didn't like me having a pair of scissors and an xacto knife, so they took them away and told me how to get them back at the end of the day. Then I went to the waiting room to fill out forms and watch videos and get sworn in, etc.... Then I waited around til I was selected for a panel, given some forms to fill out, taken to another room, turned in the forms, ran into someone I went to school with, and then told to come back after lunch. After lunch we were asked about this and that and given more forms to fill out. After a long process of being told in really vague terms what the general idea of the case was about, we were asked some more stuff. Some names were called, and mine wasn't one of them. The rest of us were told that we could leave after we'd either picked up our six dollar checks or signed them over to charity. I finally got to leave at almost seven, which was just perfect timing for my husband to get off of work and come get me. I collected my dangerous personal items and left.

Another time I was called, but I had another car then, so there was not so much drama. But I still didn't get picked. I don't ever expect to get picked, but it would be nice if I could figure out how to get on the do not call list and be done with it for good. If I get called now I would have to go to Dallas, and I hate Dallas.

My husband has served a couple of times. Once, they had to decide to have a trial to determine whether or not a woman was nuts. This wasn't a trial to determine if the woman was actually nuts, just some sort of thing that they have do to before that. It took about three hours. Some of the jurors were bothered by the fact that they never actually saw the woman who was supposedly nuts, just a bunch of other people who all said that she was. Another time my husband nearly fell asleep during a trial. This was well after he'd stopped working nights, but the lawyers and the testimony and such were just so boring. He'd pretty much decided that his vote was going to go to whoever was less boring, or maybe to whoever wasted less time. But on Thursday or Friday, when they were about done with the thing anyway, the lawyers reached some agreement and the trial ended without the jurors having to decide anything. My husband thinks that he might actually be on some no call list now because he kept nodding off.

Many years ago I took speech class in college. We had to give two major speeches, but a lot of the class were these other little exercises. One of them we were split into little groups and told stories and then asked to decide who was most at fault. The first group took the assignment very seriously and took about half the class period to figure it all out. Then a second group was told another story, and we watched them decide who was most at fault. The second group didn't take as long as the first one. Each group decided the order of guilt more quickly than the group before. The last two groups figured out that we could probably get out of class and go to lunch early if they didn't take too long, and they hardly had any discussion at all. Like maybe someone suggested an order and the rest agreed to it, and then they were done. This really bothered me at the time. It wasn't a bad exercise, and maybe we could have spent a few days on it. But after everyone figured out that you could get done with it quickly and skip over most of the discussion part, that's what most people did. And that probably happens during juror duty too. People skip over things that should be discussed so that they can go to lunch, or go home for the day, or not have to come back the next week.

Anyway, the whole thing bothers me, and I think that they should change the whole system and have professional jurors. A lot of time and money is wasted trying to find a few suitable people here and there when it could just hire some people who are good at this sort of thing. There are a few people who actually enjoy the process, if only it wouldn't interfere with their jobs. Just go ahead and make being a juror their job and be done with it.