It's murder, I'm tellin' ya

posted 05.30.05

I approached the guy at the counter and said, "I'd like to report a murder."

"A murder?! Who was murdered?" he asked.

"Well, I think there was a murder..."

"What do you mean, you think there was a murder? You said you wanted to report a murder, was there a murder or not?" he demanded.

"Well, I'm not sure they're dead, not... really sure." I admitted, thinking, belatedly, that I may have jumped the gun.

"Them?! You're not sure they're dead? But you want to report that they're murdered? Are you cracked?" He wanted to know.

"Yes, but that's not relevant here. Well, I suppose you could make a case for it, that some might find compelling, but I'm fairly certain it's not." I mused. "You see, when I passed my landlord on the sidewalk, he asked if I'd seen 'our friends recently' and I smiled and said, 'No, come to think of it, I haven't, not for several days.' And he said, 'No, I think they're gone.' And then he smiled in this way I'd never seen him smile before - it hinted at dark turnings of the mind. And that's when I got the creeping suspicion that he'd bumped them off!"

"Who?!" His eyes went wide, he was leaning toward me across the counter. "Some of the other tenants in the building?"

"Well, no, not exactly..." I said,

"So help me, I'm going to poke you one, who the hell is it? Who was murdered?!"

"No need to get so testy." I admonished.

"Why the hell are you telling me this anyway?" he asked.

I shrugged. "Just passing the time really. Can I have a few of the stamps with the little flowers and some of the ones with that big bird on them?"

"And people wonder why it is that postal workers go off the deep end and start shooting people at random? Here are your damn stamps, you get the same ones all of the time - why don't you just get them from the machine like a normal person?"

"What, precisely, in our acquaintance, has lead you to believe that I'm a normal person?" I asked.

"Good point." He admitted.

"No, really, tell me - I'd like to quash whatever it was before it gets a foothold."

He gave me a look and shook his head. "Are you going to tell me who got murdered or not?"

"The pigeons." I said.


"Yes, two pigeons. I think my landlord killed them."

"That's not murder, that's spring cleaning," he said.

"I would have thought so too... Only, well, I think I'd gotten used to their beady little vacant stares..."

He smacked his forehead and shook his head. "Lady, you need help."

"True," I said. "But I had to break up with my therapist, we were having communication issues. You see, she had poor follow through - and this annoying habit of questioning positively every last thing that came out of my mouth - sometimes even before it had finished getting out. Not everything is relative, and a point of view - it's just not.

"I was always having to say stuff like, 'How do I know that for sure? I don't, not in the absolute sense. Do you scrutinize your every thought like that? If you do, I feel sorry for you. But I know he was mad, because when he finished yelling at me, he spit in my face. That's a pretty clear signal of anger, don't you think?' Explaining and defending your every perception gets old fast. And after I told her that I found this little habit/theraputic approach unhelpful, she kept up with it.

"Someone else explained it to me, it's an approach that's sometimes used to help you re-assess your perceptions. The fact that I needed someone else to explain what she might be doing... well, there you have it! It just wasn't meant to be, I guess." I shrugged.

"I gotta go on my lunch break. Here are your stamps," he handed them over.

"Thanks, see you next week." I waved enthusiastically.

"Why can't you go to some other post office and give me a break?" He lamented.

"Now, where would be the fun in that?" I grinned.

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Who knew?

She turned to me moments before sleep to say, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, I read an article today and you'll never guess what it was about."

I snuggled further into my pillow, sleep was tickling at the edges of my peripheral vision. I grunted something in reply.

She said: "Homosexual necrophiliac ducks! Duck, actually. A Mallard duck."

"Are you trying to give me nightmares?" I grumbled.

"No, really, someone saw it," she said. "Apparently one in ten male Mallards have homosexual sex."

"How many in a hundred are necrophiliacs?" For some reason my tired brain wanted to know.

"Well, only this one is known about." She explained.

"That's comforting," I said.

"Mallards really aren't very nice," she continued. "They look so amiable and harmless, but they exhibit some nasty behaviors."

"Do I have to learn about them now? I mean, I'm sure it's interesting and everything, but I'm on the verge of sleep and I'm already going to have a dream about male ducks screwing one another on a morgue slab and that's colorful enough for one evening, surely."

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Our neighborhood looks like someone kicked over a huge pile of kindling. Branches and twigs all over the place. Yet another Nor'easter blows through...

We've persevered, yet again. (Ain't we somethin'? All rugged and whatnot.) My neighbors, too, have muddled through - or so it appears from the sounds screeching up from the streets.

The maple keys are floating past the widow on the gentle breezes. They look like a flock of moths fluttering along.

Do we dare hope that spring is here to stay?

In the news

Pressure builds on Iraq's insurgents (CSMonitor, 05.31.05)

The filibuster "compromise" looked like this to me too:
Raw Deal by Robert Kuttner (American Prospect, 05.27.05)

Has he used the NSA to spy on his enemies?
Senate votes to delay Bolton nomination (Reuters, 05.27.05)

Guantanamo probe finds 5 Koran mishandling cases (Reuters, 05.27.05)

Ooh la, towards a clearer understanding:
'Against Depression' Urges Ending a Disease (Fresh Air, 05.17.05)

Now here's a bad idea:
Closing the Gap Between Church and State (Fresh Air, 05.18.05, audio file)

"The stated purpose of D. James Kennedy's religious network is to reclaim America for Christ, closing the gap between church and state that is written into the Constitution."

The Europeans could tell you why closing that gap (above) isn't such a hot idea, or just listen to this guy:
Church and State: 'Eternal Hostility' (Fresh Air, 05.18.05, audio file)

Author Frederick Clarkson wrote the book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy And Democracy, on the growing religious movement to influence government.

They're scaring even the military guys on the right:
Arming Space (Here and Now, 05.26.05)

She came in fourth at the Indy 500! Go Danica!
Ladies, start your engines (CSMonitor, 05.26.05)

Wheldon wins Indy 500 to fulfil dream (Reuters, 05.29.05)

They said 'Non':
European integration at crossroad (CSMonitor, 05.31.05)

In case you were worried he might lose track of you, don't - Big Brother will know where you are, and what you're doing, every minute of every day... Not like he doesn't already, with credit card, internet access and cell phone records... But now he'll be absolutely positive it's you! Until someone figures out how to make up a profile:
Get used to biometric tests, U.S. tells travelers (Reuters, 05.26.05)

Weather report

posted 05.25.05

It's 47 degrees (8 degrees celsius), raining and windy.

I object!


posted 05.17.05

It's come to my attention that there's an unmet need in the marketplace! I'm developing a new device to fill it...

I was remarking to Ume that while at a local take out joint, I was met - face on - by an aggressive bosom. Or at least, that was my very first impression... confronted, as I was, so suddenly by it. After taking a moment to regroup my senses, I realized that the bosom was not so aggressive, as it was aggrieved. This is sometimes the case when one encounters another who is suffering - one mistakes the extreme emotion on first glance, as I did.

After I realized that the bosom was not so much spilling over at me, as it was being pushed, I was able to summon up the appropriate feelings of compassion - to step aside, and move on to the takeout counter, where I purchased a much prized slice of chocolate cake.

Ume commented that I'd performed well under challenging circumstances.

"I suppose she expected me to stare," I said. "And I did. After all, she was a good ten inches taller than I am, so her breasts were very much in my face. And the poor things! You should have seen them - perfectly nice breasts, probably minding their own business and everything that morning, then WHAM! SCRUNCH! 'It's the wonder bra for you two!' Is there someone we can call about this? I feel that woman's being unkind to her breasts."

"I'm afraid there's not much we can do, but sit by and watch it happen." Ume sighed.

"I'm not watching that! It's cruel! And she was wearing a crop top too. But she hadn't harassed her stomach in any way that I could see. Come to think of it... I was in a public place, wasn't I? She was practically nude."

Ume sighed, "I see it all of the time. That's how a lot of the younger women where I work dress."

"What?! You never said."

Ume nodded, then shrugged, "It's a casual place."

"Uh... so? Isn't it also a workplace?" I asked.

"Yes, but it's casual, and if you address the way some people dress and not others, you're opening a can of worms that's best left shut."

"Let me get this straight... It's a workplace, and you've got women wandering around, partially clad, with breasts under duress, generating major cleavage displays? Where are we?! California? What happened to good old fashioned puritanical New England prudishness... prudery... not-givin'-it-away-for-free, whatever ya call it - but where'd it go? Have these women no pride of history?"

"Most of them aren't from New England." Ume explained.

"Well there you have it, then!" I exclaimed. "You know, I think what your workplace needs is a good Cleav-o-meter."

"A what?" She asked.

"A Cleav-o-meter," I said. "It's a simple device, costs... um... $19.99. Every workplace with inappropriately dressed personnel should have one."

"They don't think they're inappropriately dressed."

"Since when was that ever the point?" I asked. "Do you think they're inappropriately dressed?"

"I think they're ludicrously dressed, but it amounts to about the same thing." She shrugged.

"Okay then," I continued my pitch. "With this simple device, your workplace will be cleavage-free."

"No need to be overly zealous!" Ume cautioned. "A little cleavage was never a bad thing."

"That's what the adjustable detection levels are for." I assured her.

"What adjustable detection levels?"

"On the Cleav-o-meter!" I said. "What do you think I'm talking about here?"

"I have no idea." She admitted.

"Look, I'm selling a device for a super-reasonable $19.99 - have I mentioned that? It's a device that will detect inappropriate displays of cleavage in the workplace. For you, I'll give a discount, maybe $14.99, with a mail-in rebate - and that's my best offer."

"How does it work?" She wanted to know.

"It's simple, I told you. It identifies inappropriate displays of cleavage. Once it's done that, the inappropriate displayee will be issued a small kerchief to tuck over it (the display, that is) for the rest of the day. The kerchief will be white, maybe, with a red 'C' embroidered thereupon. It will become customary for coworkers to jeer at anyone adorned with the white kerchief and the red 'C' - they can throw bits of rotted fruit at them, or at the very least, crumpled up paper from trash bins."

"Sometimes you scare me. Dare I ask what this device looks like?" Ume cringed.

"Oh sure!" I smiled brightly (it's a winning sales gimmick). "It's kind of like a hand held digital organizer. The logo is one of those nifty puritanical hats with a buckle just above the brim, with two large breasts hanging out from the bottom of it. When you press a button, the hat falls over the breasts and covers 'em right up!"

"Your marketing genius is wasted on mere mortals," Ume lamented.

"Yes, I know, but it's the mortals what got the money."

"Are we going to sit here and talk about cleavage all day, or are we going to eat that cake you bought?" She asked.

"Hmm... good question. But I think maybe I ought to start visiting you at work, you know, strictly for research purposes - sounds like a great place to test my product's viability."

"Shut up and let's eat the cake," she said.

"Okay, but I should probably start picking you up after work. I'll even drop by early and meet you in your office. We could give some of your co-workers a lift home, if they're around... Ya know, just to be friendly and all. I wouldn't not let them ride with us if they were inappropriately dressed, or anything."

"Uh-huh, that's big of you, Brulee, truly. But shut it," she said. "I want cake, and I want it now."

"Sure thing, my beloved. But Ume?" I asked.

"What?!" She barked, fork in hand.

"Promise me you'll never aggrieve your bosom in such an extreme manner. It pains me even to think of it."

She smiled her sweet smile and said in all seriousness, "I promise."

"You're swell. Now, let's have at that cake."

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Thanks for adding the nifty comments! There may be more than four of us... scary thought, eh?

Hey, Happy Anniversary!!!

Same-sex marriage has been legal in MA for a whole year! Whoop, whoop! Or not, depending on your view of the institution of marriage. Anyhow, there are all manner of cheerful folks partying down, here in the Bay State: First Anniversary of Gay Marriage (OnPoint, 05.16.05, audio file)

'Course, in all of those states that rammed anti-gay constitutional amendments through their legislative plumbing in reaction to the prospect of cheerful queers skipping through their courthouses... it's not quite so rosy lookin'. But cheer up! You get to avoid the spectre of being made honest and acceptible and all that. You're rugged individualistic type outsiders swimming against the mainstream - ooh, all counterculturally hip and makin' the sheltered, insular types just that much more uncomfortable. Yay, you!

And just because I heard it again recently and it's sorta-kinda related in that it's gay-themed - well, here's a great show to check out: Sissies (This American Life, audio file)

In the news

Their arrogance knows no bounds...
Reid ends talks on U.S. judges with Frist (Reuters, 05.16.05)

In light of how they operate overall, it's terribly difficult not to see the recent recommendations for base closings through a political lens... The north and east got gutted, the south and west made out like bandits. There's a really funny caller on the show who claims that folks down south are better educated than they are up north... cracked me right up - great sense of humor:
Way Off Base (The Connection, 05.17.05, audio file)

Boggles the mind from every angle, this one:
Pakistan dismisses Newsweek retraction on Koran (Reuters, 05.17.05)

What Do the Insurgents Want? (Washington Post, 05.08.05)

Testing the Strength of the Opposition (The Connection, 05.17.05, audio file)

Oh, by the way, there's a genocide taking place:
Sudan (Here and Now, 05.13.05, audio file)

Great discussion:
Forced Labor in a Globalized World (OnPoint, 05.16.05, audio file)

Weve come so far... not!
FDA Advises Sperm Banks on Gay Donors (Day To Day, 05.17.05, audio file)

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My Own Devices

posted 05.02.05


Ume's left me up to my own devices for a couple of days...

She's gone off to visit Mrs. Boshi, and they're doing mother/daughter activities - Boshi style. They walk the dog, eat really good stuff, and Ume tries to convince her mother that her newest fascination with the likes of, say, Uri Geller (who tried to resurrect his psychic spoon bending career not long ago) probably aren't... well... deeply rooted in scientific thinking... or even common sense.

Ume walked up to me one evening after finishing a conversation on the phone with her mother - she was pale, distressed looking.

"What is it?" I asked, concerned.

"My mother just told me that Uri Geller is, and I quote, 'not a fake, but the real deal'."

"Oh dear... I'm really sorry to hear that. Does she think his spoon bending abilities are proof that the Egyptians didn't build the pyramids, but that white people from another planet did?" I bit my lip and tried not to laugh.

"I'm worried that she's going to start sending one of these snake oil men money one of these days."

"You'd think Geller wouldn't have the gaul to show his face again - not after he was so thoroughly embarrassed the last time his 'talents' were found lacking. Has he resolved his lawsuit with James Randi? Just be happy your mother works during the day, and can't watch the psychic afternoon talk show programs - that crap's scary. Same old carnival schtick, but way more sophisticated than Geller ever dreamed of being. Hey! Let's turn your Mom onto James Randi! He's her age, and kinda cute, maybe she'd get a crush on him - then she'd send him money to fight in the name of critical thinking!"

My supportive ideas were not helping, Ume had turned even paler than before. She leaned against the doorway for support.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"I just realized that I have to visit my mother and break her television set."

"But why?"

"She's retiring this year... She might see some of those shows!"

"Then we'd best start sending her photos of James Randi now! We've not a minute to lose! I'll e-mail her the link to his web site."

Ume had a relative, who, before she passed away, suffered from dementia. Some bottom-feeder of a con man wormed his way through Ume's aunt's paranoid delusions, and convinced her that her family was trying to do her harm. He isolated her and didn't let the family see her. He also convinced her to sign over all of her money and possessions to him. It's not a pretty story. It's not even all that uncommon a story, apparently.

It was tough on Ume's family and made a difficult time for any family, that much worse and more painful. So Ume is ever vigilant for predatory shyster characters, especially around her mother - who tends to think people she's just met are her very best friends... A charming, yet sometimes troubling, personal characteristic.

So here I am (subject returns to me, naturally)... left to my own devices... I went to a fabric store today and got beat up by the clerk there. I had no idea women in fabric stores were so rough and tumble. No one tells me anything.

I was standing at the counter, minding my own business (as per usual), and this woman turns around and whacks me in the kisser with the end of a bolt of fabric. Pow! I'm going to have a fat lip. And Ume's going to buy the story that I was in a fabric store, and this lady accidently smacked me one? Doubt it.

"What did she look like? And where, exactly, were your hands when she hit you?"

Ume's always saying stuff like that. Like tonight when she called to check up on me, she said, "Spare my feelings, would you? Send the dancing girls into the other room - at least until we've hung up." One of these days someone is going to overhear her accusing me of gross misconduct and believe her.

So, you're probably wondering what it was I was doing in the fabric store - other than getting my ass kicked by a fabric weilding granny. You'll die if I tell you. I couldn't bear the weight of your untimely demise from shock on my conscience, so I'll spare you... or maybe I won't. Go get the smelling salts, people - I was buying thread! Yes, I know! Thread! Calm down.

I'm hemming a new pair of pants. Not the black jeans - can't be bothered, I'm just rolling those up - I'm hemming a pair of khakis. Why am I hemming them? Because I'm tired of the old geezer wandering past the dressing room in the place I've gone for years to have my pants hemmed, that's why. It's not that I begrudge him his jollies, it's that I don't care for his technique - lacks a certain panache. And anyway, they should be paying me if they're going to be letting pops get his jollies at my expense. So forget it, I'll do my own hemming. Or at least I will until I find a place that's not got an old guy lurking around in the back while I'm changing (this is the second place I've been to that has this problem - is there a spray you can get for that? Oh right, mace!).

I can hear you asking it from here. "Brulee, you can sew?" Don't sound so worried. As it turns out - yes, I can. Or at least I fudge it well enough to hem a pant leg or two. It ain't rocket science. What it is, is a time suck, and a royal pain in the ass, and well worth the $8.00 I pay to get it done hereabouts. And I'll be paying it again, when I find someone I like, who hasn't got an old geezer lurking in the back of their shop. Last thing I plan on doing is starting up a tailoring operation - though, if I ever find myself single and lonely, I could open a shop and lurk around the changing area for cheap thrills.

Randi related article:
Neck Deep in the Skeptic Tank! by Richard Abowitz  

Sticky mice

Let me ask you something... Have you ever had to use somebody else's computer's mouse? When you did, was it sticky? If yes, how did you react?

What's the proper etiquette in that situation? Do you turn and wipe your hand down the owner of the sticky mouse's shirtfront? Ask for a tissue? Some sterilizing alcohol rub? A blowtorch?

Reader comments...

Dirty Mouses. Well, that's something I didn't want to have to worry about but now...hmm, what about the mouses (mice?, whatever) at the library. Does one carry a small can of spray disinfectant? Or that nifty Purell that goes on your key chain? (My personal choice, it nestles right next to the Mace and my Leatherman micro personal knife thingy. My keychain weighs 2lbs and I only have 5 keys, LOL) Best of luck with the sewing, I don't partake of that pleasure. The world is better for my refraining. Isn't it wonderful about the Ivory Billed Woodpecker? I was all set to go and see it till I saw the swampland you had to get through to see the bird. I don't think so, said this city gal. Love your blog, thanks
USA - 05/02/2005

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In the news

Religious war is being declared in America... Guess who fired the first shot?

Faith and the Filibuster (Here and Now, 04.25.05, audio file)

Christian Conservatives Take Aim at Filibusters (Reuters, 04.25.05)

Majority Bleeder by Sam Rosenfeld (American Prospect, 04.26.05 )

The odyssey of Tom Delay continues on a-pace...

Democrats Reject Conditional Offer on DeLay Probe (Reuters, 04.20.05)

House Clears Way for Anticipated DeLay Probe (Reuters, 04.27.05)

White House Challenges DeLay Allegations Ahead of Probe (Reuters, 05.01.05)

My favorite quote from this next article, "...but offerred no details". So they have this grand scheme to fix Social Security, but even after a sixty day, multimillion dollar, multi-state, media blitz - they're not going to tell us what it is! And they're wondering why this is going over like a lead balloon?
Amid Poll Woes, Bush Proposes Social Security Fix (Reuters, 04.28.05)

Take a look at these and take the prescribed steps (links to patches are provided in the second article):
Hackers aren't just picking on Microsoft: study (Reuters, 05.02.05)

The Most Critical New Vulnerabilities Discovered or Patched During the First Quarter of 2005 (SANS, 05.02.05)

Ooh la!
'Extinct' Ivory Billed Woodpecker Sighted (Reuters, 04.28.05)

The new food pyramid/healthy eating guidlines sponsored by the meat and dairy associations... I mean, the government... has come out right on the heels of this new research that claims that obesity isn't quite as bad for you as McDonald's insists it isn't. Both are bad jokes... And we'll get to pay for all the diabetes, heart related illnesses, and the broken nurse's backs that obesity causes, for years to come.

A New Food Pyramid (Here and Now, 04.25.05, audio file)

Obesity in Middle Age Raises Dementia Risk - Study (Reuters, 04.28.05)