The Mark Of Zorro

Mr. Ferguson is the mostly gentlemanly, the most debonair, the most delicate and polite of the current cat population. He uses his toes as actual digits — you should see him reach into the bag and pick up a piece of popcorn — and he offers gallantries to his wife on a regular basis, but, well, genteely. He even carries his tail in a dashing curl.

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And then there’s what happens when it’s time for a checkup at the vet.

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That’s my front delt. I didn’t notice until I got back from the gym, owing to the digging of his rear claws into my thigh when we commenced stuffing him into the carrier. It kind of captured my attention.

You’ll be glad to know he checked out A-OK.

 

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The Bullshit Is Starting

TAP Beer of the Week: Smashed Pumpkin Ale

The sun is going down and I spotted a few people with bags across the block, so I guess I have to stop whatever I want to be doing now, sit down in the living room — I’ve already locked the frustrated cats behind closed doors to prevent ninja escapes — and wait for the troops of little assholes that I don’t know from Adam to knock on my door extorting candy.

Every year someone tells me “you could just go out.” Where? This is my house. I would like to enjoy spending time in it. There is nothing to enjoy about having to jump up every five or ten minutes to give cheap crappy candy to kids you don’t know, because I am pretty careful not to know any kids, when you are hungry for dinner and would just like to read your book afterward. And fake enthusiasm for their costumes, maybe two of which in an evening actually amount to something. You are stuck with this, because you don’t want to get eggs thrown at your house for refusing to play the stupid game. Trust me, you never want to have to get dried egg out of a porch screen. It takes weeks.

How did this get so out of control? The time change — which is nonsense in itself — has now been orchestrated around it. God forbid any of the littlest maggots should have to go out in the dark.

I think I am out of politics for good, but if I ever run for anything myself — back when I was managing the campaign of an all American whack job, people used to suggest the idea — I am running on a platform that includes the abolition of Trick Or Treating. There will also be condign penalties for using quotation marks for emphasis and the incorrect placement of apostrophes, but unlike the goddam candy raiders, offenders will be eligible for parole.

Feh.

Nymph, In Thine Orisons Be All My Sins Remembered

I really fucking hate it when someone tries to bring me to Jesus just as I am gearing up for a set on the parallel footplate stack sled machine.

See, I had just one skinny hour in the middle of the afternoon today, on account a good regular client called and asked desperation if I had time for him in his hour of pain, so I whirled into the gym, knocked out my twenty minutes on the resistance bike, stretched, and hit the weight stations. Days like this you do not mess with things that need plates loaded. I was knocking out my second round, not as good as an angle press (see header) or a Smith squat say, but it will get you through, and this amiable white-polled geezer, not bad looking for seventy plus, tall, slightly stooped, mooched up on the other side of the footplate to ask about my stretch movements. Was it for the body problem I had? (Sadly, some days my old leg injury still means I carry a walking pole into the gym, inevitably when a low pressure system is bearing down; people must be fairly mindfucked to see me using a light cane and then jamming up a sled with ten wheels on it, but that’s their problem.) Yeah, I said, explaining about dance stretches and the proprietary workout I had lifted them from, while he nattered about his wife going to Curves (blergh) and then suddenly asked “Is the Bible ever a part of your thinking?”

No, I said, I am a Pagan on even numbered days and an agnostic on odd ones.

He forged ahead regardless. It didn’t matter, had I ever…

Not interested, I said. Really not up for talking about it right now.

Well had I heard about the woman with an issue of blood…

Ferfrigsake you Morlock, do I look like someone who doesn’t have a degree in Languages and Literature and hasn’t made a study of comparative religions? Oh right, I’m on this weight machine in a string tank.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

You septuagenarian opportunist, you saw me limping on a wet day and now you want to persuade me that Jeebus will heal me. Right? I HAVE TWENTY MINUTES TO WORK OUT AND THIS IS NOT THE TIME.

He reluctantly buggered off before I could tell him to bugger off. Or point out that he was in my house of worship, goddammit, and he was interrupting me at my prayers.

I gotta say, my workout volume was pretty massive, given the brief time I had.

He comes at me again, I won’t be so nice. For Christ’s sake. In a manner of speaking.

 

 

Hope Never Dies

I am still here.

I honestly don’t know when I’ll feel like writing again about the antics of cats, garden insurrections, the droll wisecracks of my Engineer sweetheart or gym idiocy. The dumpster fire (yesterday I saw the term “diaper fire”) of our current rolling crisis has eaten my brain alive, what is left after adjusting for stubborn post-injury pain that I don’t even want to talk much about. I spend way too much time on Twitter, hoping to make an early catch of good news when it does happen. Concentration is hard.

But every once in a while something comes along:

I used to faithfully read a series by Elliott Roosevelt, yes, that Roosevelt family, featuring his mother Eleanor as the Miss Marple-like sleuth in a series of pulpy murder mysteries. They weren’t terribly good, but they weren’t terribly bad either, and featured striking cameos like a house party involving Humphrey Bogart, or an open air fish fry where poor Southern African-Americans dynamited or telephoned the fish (I forget which) and entertained the First Lady to dinner. They were just cute, friendly books, the kind that telegraph that nobody really got hurt, this is just made up, we’re playing let’s pretend.

Hope Never Dies is a lot more noir. But funny noir, even with its glum reminders of why our heroes Barry and Joe are private citizens now, free (except for a disapproving Secret Service detail) to be pursuing a string of clues in a suspicious death. The cliches are all there and they’re delicious: the surprise midnight appearance at Joe Biden’s home, the mysterious woman, the planted stash, the hard-boiled similes (“I crossed the yard as fast as a dog licking a dish”). Shaffer can write. I’m devouring this thing, but not too fast; I need some time out from the nonstop battering of the Trump administration. And having written local politicians into a murder mystery myself, I feel like I now have a posse.

On the other hand, there is this, from the same author.

Creepily, it was published before the 2016 election. What did he know and when did he know it? Can I stand to read it?

And I am really not sure about

I think it deserves a read for the pen name alone, though. News as I get it.

 

The Haunted Bijoona

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Does anything actually work the way it is supposed to any more? I am on my third washing machine in a decade. My refrigerator, which replaced a sturdy sale model with eighteen years of service, has been repaired twice. And now I have, not only a bijoona, but a disturbingly, authentically haunted bijoona.

This is, to recap, the commode I had installed a shave over three years ago to replace the one that served the first floor of the house loyally for the Biblical three score years and ten. So of course before it was really even seasoned into its job, something had to happen. The eve of Thanksgiving, 2015, in the middle of a wiring upgrade which was supposed to be done by early November and continued till January, The Bijoona suddenly fell prey to an affliction whereby either the bowl would empty completely and not refill, or fill to the brim and decline to drain.

The Engineer, inevitably, was out for the evening rescuing an idiot, a hobby which he has gradually, thankfully abandoned, but that left me here with a holiday weekend, a spanking-new commode sticking out its tongue at me, and the Internet. Hot water was recommended: “Do not use boiling hot water as it can crack the porcelain. The water should be the temperature of the hottest tea you would drink.” These are not thoughts you like to connect to a plumbing fixture. I doughtily boiled water, let it cool, poured, plunged, and wondered idly if the electrician, an ADD poster child who left a trail of tools and personal effects and could never show up when promised, might have dropped his cell phone in there and flushed it. Right about when I hit the brink of despair the goddam thing finally worked. Just in time for the Engineer to get home.

We had one other episode of that, and then, about two months ago, something snapped in the flapper assembly and I had to shorten the chain so that the flap would come up. Not long after, it started running steadily after you flushed; the flapper wouldn’t seat unless you diddled the handle in just such a way, a very tiresome process on which to coach clients, all of whom not only want to use the bathroom but explain, with great specificity, why they need to pee at that exact moment. I got nothing here. I just always assumed that using the bathroom was a given and that you didn’t need to identify the cause (coffee, green tea, honey I really DON’T care.)

One of the clients, a dear man who can talk till my eyes glaze over about the clever improvements he is incessantly making in his own house. insisted on opening the tank and adjusting a screw. “That will fix it,” he announced. Yeah right.

Then, about a week ago, I heard a dire moan: a human, B-horror-movie sound issuing weirdly from the bathroom. Water chugged briefly in the pipes and quit with a squeak. It sounded as if someone had had a disturbing gastric episode.

Every so often it happens again. Marley’s Ghost with diarrhea.

So, has this been the problem all along? I call a business that I trusted and they unload a haunted commode on me, like a British estate agent played by Christopher Lee foisting the psychopompous ancestral property on a clueless American couple? The Engineer says it’s just a pressure thing in the pipes, but he’s an engineer and has to think that way.

I haven’t sat down so cautiously since the rat came up through the U-bend. Updates as they occur.

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*Enjoy the Clancy brothers singing about a haunted privy. These guys were a joy to me in my teenage years.

 

 

The English Bach

This is not actually a post about music.

What happened was, Sebastian, my faithful handbuilt desktop of ten years (my Engineer spec-d it out, I passed screwdrivers and told him what I needed it to do) started crashing a couple of weeks ago. Repeatedly. The mail program, the browser, the whole damn OS. It accelerated over a period of 48 hours to the point I would have been frantic without a laptop in the house. A client who gets paid to understand computers all day (and very probably emulate Russian hackers as a security geek, for the military) said it sounded like a hard drive problem to him, with an explanation that matched the observed gyrations.

(I named him Sebastian because the case is a Bach VX, even though I lean more to late Romantic than Baroque. It seemed only natural.)

So we tottered out to Micro Center and bought a new hard drive, even though the old one was not even two years old — I’ve had a defective hard drive before — and the Windows 10 OS for the heck of it, since one thing Sebastian had apparently not been able to do for months was update Windows 7. Some of this is chargeable against tax. This is the excuse I use.

A few hours later, we had everything installed, restored, activated and updated, and I set to work. It was nice. Windows 10 was fast and so was the new drive. I used it through Monday, annoyed only to note that every time the computer slept, it woke up thinking it was September. All those site certificates out of date. I got really tired of resetting the clock.

Then Thunderbird started crashing again. Then everything. Three blue screens in a row. I haven’t seen a blue screen since Windows XP.

“I think it’s the motherboard,” I said, pointing out the clock issues. We reflected that the motherboard was ten years old.

Newegg ships in a day if you pay a modest fee. We got a new motherboard and a power supply, considering there were possible power issues in some of the crap we saw.

Everything went together fairly well, and because I am anal-retentive about things like this, we had all the manuals for the remaining hardware, and it powered up and today we loaded everything back on it. It was so new by this time that I named it after Sebastian Bach’s son, Johann Christian, also known as the “English Bach” from his main stomping grounds (he is buried in England, and the royal family endowed his widow). I decided to start this post by searching up a music video of one of his concertos, which Mozart admired.

The audio burred. The browser crashed. The system blue-screened.

  1. The audio card may be poorly seated.
  2. The MEMORY_MANAGEMENT crash makes me wonder about the RAM. The memory sticks are one of the few pieces of hardware not updated so far.
  3. If it is about a couple of sticks of RAM, despite the fact I love the new OS and zippy startup, that percussive sound you hear will be me rhythmically and repeatedly slamming my forehead into the especially stout and unyielding plaster walls of my 1940’s-built residence.

In the meanwhile, enjoy some music.

Ear Defenders

I have been bitching for years about the universal plague of the earbud, the solipsistic me-world accessory that isolates other gym members in their own little music bubble and makes them impervious to things like friendly conversation or requests to “work in” on the machine they’ve been hogging for three sets without getting off in between. Well, you can talk to them, but you have to cause an international incident by raising your voice and waving your hand in front of their faces and repeating yourself when they fork the gross wax-glazed bud out of their ear and say “Huh?” like an old deefer in a retirement home.

Only I seem to have joined them. No, I don’t stick things in my ears. Never have, never will; it’s disgusting, and TOO GODDAM LOUD. I don’t need my music inside my bodily orifices; I really don’t need it in the gym at all. Which is sort of the reason. Gold’s was bad enough — they had their own disgusting radio station peppered with repetitions of the same ads every fifteen minutes,, for teeth whitener or Spandex leggings or what not. Back at Planet Fitness, where I reluctantly retreated after the millionth commercial and one too many rude assholes and a paucity of warmup bikes — they pick a Sirius station, and on Sundays I can stand the classic rock, which sort of takes me back to my roots at the biker gym that was my home in the 80s. The current top forty, however, can take a hike. It either sounds like a bad case of fleas or someone banging his head on a wall for eternity, and one of the current songs features a talentless female vocalist ascending to a dramatic peak note — practically in whistle register and grotesquely flat. I was raised on real music, goddammit — Mozart and Bruckner and Schumann and Brahms. I don’t know why people need to fray their nerves with this amateurish shit all day. No wonder society is in a mess.

So what happened was, I was reading the Twitter feed of Steven Silberman, who wrote the book, literally, about autistic people finding their place in human culture, and one of his autistic tweeps posted about wearing his Ear Defenders in the subway and meeting a gradeschool-age autistic kid who was excited at the sight because he wore them too.

I perked up. I have always gravitated toward people on the spectrum, though I didn’t usually know it because “on the spectrum” hasn’t been a term for most of my life. But forex, my first decent boyfriend (my “transgender ex,” as it turned out) ticked all the boxes for Aspie whiz kid with tics and quirks — could play reams of Bach and Beethoven by heart, chess maniac, used to make weird rolling movements with his hands and hum to himself, wore clothes until they were in tatters because they were familiar and soft. The Congressional protest candidate that I worked for in the oughts used to routinely stim while driving the car, holding his hand over the air vents and waving it continually at the wrist; couldn’t remember a face for five minutes; couldn’t shut up once he started talking, did statistics for a living, handled carefully planned public speaking with grace but had genuine meltdowns when there was too much unscripted interaction. (I earned some kind of an award for stage-managing his candidacy.) He had had a ham radio call sign since his teens — a hobby that was home to autistic people before the digital age gave them a larger playground. I was always sorry that I couldn’t coax him, a man born long before adult autism diagnosis was a “thing,” into getting evaluated, but like neurotypicals (that’s me and pro’lly you) of his generation, could only hear me suggesting that he had an awful defect instead of alternative wiring.

The common ground is that I get the characteristic low threshold that autistic people have for sensory input. I get a violent headache and throw up if I view 3-D movies or even the vivid animations that often precede a feature film. I cannot be near anything like a disco or party and, lacking any desire to attend a rock concert, can detect (and be crazed by) a loud stereo two houses away that the Engineer can’t even hear. This is a “thing,” too, though it is kind of mortifying that it is termed “high sensitivity,” which sounds like I am trying to align with a cohort of tender weepers who swoon if you say “fuck.” Whatever. It makes me a good bodyworker and ruthless lifter who says “fuck” a lot in the presence of excess commotion. Maybe that is its own neurotribe.

I stuck “Ear Defender” into the search bar.

A few days later this wonderful pair of orange things showed up.

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They look like the headphones that a lot of gym peeps wear, they’re just not connected to anything. No one else has to know that. They muffle 37 decibels, are considered adequate for driving monster trucks or light shooting, and I can attest that while they do not obliterate the vile noise that pours from the gym speakers, they move it way up the road. Also, I don’t have to overhear screamingly banal conversation from the schlubby housewives and shuffling pudgy men who use the machines backward and operate the bikes on zero resistance in slo-mo just so they can tell their doctors they “work out.” I miss the days when only goons and buff gay men (and me) hung out in gyms.

Now I get to be the one saying “Hm?” What the hell. It’s nice and quiet in here.