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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not exclusive concepts

The Jimmy John's deliver guy was surprised by the renovations taking place in the office.

He: These doors are new... or am I crazy?
Me: Could be both.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"We Built The Pyramids!" - Barenaked Ladies

I work with computer geeks.
They know they are geeks.
They are proud of it.

I am not a computer geek.  What I am is at least ten years older than the oldest employee there and more than twenty years older than most of them. Thankfully, I have teenage sons who have rubbed off enough of their geekiness onto me that I can fake my way through most conversations.

I went to lunch with a group gigabyte of these geeks this week.
At one point, our boss mentioned how working in our office is a lot like hanging out with the characters in the TV show Big Bang Theory.
"We've got all the personalities," he remarked.
We all pondered this quietly because no one wanted to point fingers (or have fingers pointed at them).

And I wondered which character that would make me.
Penny?  No way.
Amy?  Bernadette?

Then it hits me.

I'm Sheldon's mom.
Thbbbt.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

2-Word Movie Review - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Here are your two words:

Routine Maneuvers

(Please skip ahead to the *** if you wish to avoid the following hating-on-children-in-theaters rant)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that my enjoyment of this movie was hampered by three morons who thought it was acceptable to bring their 5-year-old children to this PG-13 production.
What. The. What.
The previews that were shown before the movie should have been scary enough to warn those parents that this was not going to be a family-friendly romp in the primary colored playground.  Everything in the previews was dark and violent.
But no.  No one reviewed their judgement.  No one took their kids to a more appropriate movie.
So the entire theater was blessed with frequent bursts of "Is he okay?" and "What happened?" followed by very loud "SHHHH! Be quiet!" throughout the show.
"But," I imagined the parents thinking, "there's no gratuitous sex or splattering blood, so this is okay."
Mm hm.  Let's ignore the numerous blunt force head trauma injuries and gun to the head murders.  Yes, murders.  LOTS of people get killed in this movie.  Let's take the little ones and show them how normal assault and murder is... especially when the good guys do it.  Quickly.  Repeatedly.  And without remorse.

I hate you people.
Your stupidity offends me.

But, I digress...

***

Plenty of spoilers ahead.  Plenty.

Your two words come from the feeling that I've seen this movie before.  They spend a lot of time on fight scenes and blowing stuff up, and each one looked a lot like the last one.
"Oh no!  The good guy is on the floor near death!  Oh wait, no, he's up and stronger than before."  Yeah, that's never happened in a movie before.
And what's the deal with the Falcon?  Do we really need to introduce a new flying character?  Doesn't Iron Man fly?
There were three Marvel characters in this movie and others were referenced to often enough that I forgot this was Captain America's movie and not an Avengers movie.

I've seen this, you guys.
I was bored with this movie.

So many times I've seen this, I knew what was coming so very long before it happened.
"Just rip his mask off and be shocked to see who it is, already."
"Yeah, yeah, they'll talk so long the bad/good guy will get away."
"I know Captain America is gonna win, so can we just get to the end of this scene?"

Oh, and what's the deal with the shaking camera effect?
They're sitting in an apartment having a conversation.  Why do we need to shake that like it's a scene from The Blair Witch Project?
What. The. What.

 That being said, if an action-packed, blow 'em up movie is what you're in the mood for, by all means, go.  This is exactly what you're looking for.
Plus, it ends with the promise of a sequel that will have more.
Of the same.
Again.

But don't take your kids.
I might have to hurt you.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Great Googly Moogly!

So. Some of the stuff I've been doing for a living since leaving radio is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  A few of you might know what that is, but a good portion of people have no idea.

Quick definition:  SEO is a little bit of behind the scenes tweaking that helps Google bots find a website/page and place it just a little bit higher on the results list of a Google search.  It involves programming in the website itself and a lot of talent and skill applied to social media.

My current job duties include helping the SEO department work some the behind the scenes magic.   They have this nifty tool that looks at individual pages of a client's website and spits out a report about things that need to be fixed in order for the Google bots to recognize this particular page for certain search words.
Some things in this report include the number of times a key word is used on the page (sometimes too many or too few), how often the website is updated (Google doesn't like an abandoned site), how many other websites link to it (if related sites think this page is valuable, Google will too), how many people visit the site (same value system as outside links), and how old the website is (the younger a website, the less authority Google gives it).
We take this report and go into the website to make the recommended changes.  Most of the time, all it takes is some creative word play.

One day, I had a lot of trouble with the report I was given.  Most of the recommendations were things I had no control over... like the other websites linked to it and the names of the pages themselves.
After spending as much time as I was allowed to spend on it, I handed the report back to the SEO department with an apology.

"There wasn't a lot I could do for this client," I wrote.  "However, I *did* manage to age the website by one hour and add one more visitor to it this month."

The hour I aged it was the hour I spent working on it.
The additional visitor... was me.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SQUIIIIIIIIID!!!

The One With More Squid


Five weeks ago, I went back to school.

I worked really hard to apply, get my 25-year-old credits transferred from three different colleges, and pull teeth to get a human being to talk to me without pointing me back to the university website that I'd already scoured for answers that weren't there.

I want my bachelor's degree.
Finally.
I need it.
I deserve it.

I ended up applying as undecided and enrolled in a general ed course that all students at this college have to take before graduating, so no matter what I decide to major in eventually, I'll have this class done.

Just the one class.
Going back to college after a quarter of a century, believe it or not, requires something of a learning curve.  For instance, even though the class meets in a classroom, all the assignments, homework, and tests are passed out and handed in on-line.
I miss paper.  I really do.

Plus, with all my transfer credits, I'm coming back as a junior.  I'm taking a junior level class.
The professor says things like, "If you've got a paper you've written from another class, just rewrite it a little to reflect what you've learned in this class."  Yeah, I don't have a paper from another class.  I don't have a paper from this decade... or the last one.
It feels like I've jumped into the middle of a marathon that everyone else has been training for for the past two years, and I'm still lacing up my shoes.

So, one class.  Dip my toe in the water.
And I will admit to you:  I have been far more stressed out by this one class than I think I should be.

Still, it's all okay.
It's just more squid.
Though there have been times I've thought it's really stupid of me to have gone back to school, stupid to being going now, for the most part I am happy.  I am moving forward.  If I shouldn't be in school now, when would I feel is a better time?  And why wait any longer?
If I continue to take just one class at a time, it will take me five more years to earn the four-year degree that I've already half achieved.  (I find that quite funny, actually.)

The kicker?
Since I've taken this step, The Husband is inspired to go back for his master's.
And he loves telling people he's married to a college girl.  :-)

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Backwoods Hick" as a second language

Maybe I'm just getting old, and maybe I'm just not wording my questions clearly, but more and more it seems like when I ask a question, I get an answer that is not related to my inquiry.

Here's an honest to goodness conversation.  Please be frank with me and tell me if I was not communicating clearly.

Me:  Excuse me, we're not from around here.  Is this The White Bar?
He:  The White Bar?  You mean McGinney's?
Me:  Is that what this bar is called?  We were told to go to The White Bar.  Do you know where that is?
He:  Are you looking for the 25th anniversary?
Me:  The.  White.  Bar.
He:  This is where the McGinney's party is.

The guy was sincerely nice and completely sober.
It's like, "You're here.  Certainly you must be looking for this party."
I think I could have been asking where the gas station was, and he'd have given me the same answers.

***

Here's another one I had while instant messaging computer support at work:

Me:  I know you guys have a big update coming later this week, but it appears I'm using a version that is two updates behind.  When you guys have updates, do we get them automatically, or do we need to do something on our end?
He:  Updates to the cloud are.  Each are to www.ourwebsite.com/update .
Me:   What does that mean?
He:  Updates to the cloud are automatic.  Each to www.ourwebsite.com/update.
Me:  So I have to go to that website to get updates?
He:  Yes.
Me:  So, that's why I'm two updates behind?
He:  I don't understand.
Me:  I've never been to that website.  I'm two updates behind.  So, to get updates, I have to go get them, right?
He:  I'm going to have a tech contact you to explain how it works.
Me:  The only question I have is... When the update comes this week, do we have to do something to get it, or do we open up the program one day and, boom, it's there?
He:  I don't think I'm communicating clearly on chat.  I'm going to have someone call you.

Dude, the original question had an A) or B) answer.  You gave me answer 3).
This? or That? 
The answer is tree!
What do you mean by "tree"?
The big tree.
You're killing me, Smalls.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Two Word Movie Review - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Here are your two words:

"Sweet Life"

I liked this Ben Stiller movie before I saw it. Its previews captured me.
While The Husband would have chosen something else to watch, I promised him that with the fantasies Walter would have, certainly something would blow up sometime during the movie.
We were not disappointed.

I liked the story. I liked Walter, a Negative Asset Manager at soon-to-be out-dated Life Magazine. You've met Walter in real life. In fact, I'm pretty sure we've each *been* Walter at one point or another.  And by the end of this movie, (SPOILER ALERT) you will wish you *were* Walter Mitty.

(SPOILER ALERT CONTINUES...)
Here is it: There is no surprise wake-up moment at the end where we find out he imagined it all. 
I add this observation because I spent a great deal of the movie waiting for that moment, but it never happened.  I would have appreciated many of the scenes more if I hadn't been waiting to find out they weren't real.
That, and I would have liked to have seen more fantasy sequences.


(END SPOILERS)

Strong character development.
Believable acting.
Good plot.
Worth seeing on the big screen for the beautiful cinematography.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Black Cat Story: For All the Kitties

This is not the funny today, folks.
Every once in a while there's a story in the news about a dog or a cat that overcomes a tragedy; and the public at large rallies around that one animal offering a home and money to care for it. An animal they had never known.
There are countless creatures in shelters across the country, each one having suffered a loss. Each one has lost a home. Are they any less valuable or fascinating only because we don't know what they've gone through?

So, today is a story about one of these souls.  It could be the same story as any one of the animals in your own local shelter.

Okay, take a breath...

Let me start out by telling you that the black cat in my didn't make it.  I don't want you to read this story thinking there's a happy ending that's not coming.  Especially since it's going to be a very long story.

A Long Story

Since I left radio last year, my employment status has varied quite a bit.  Rather than give you details which may change yet again in the next few months, let me just explain that one of my current jobs is as a weekend/fill-in jock at a radio station in the next county over.  It's not a great job; but it looks good on my resume, and during a period when a lot has changed on that resume, having *this* on it for a solid twelve months is not a bad thing.  Make no mistake, this is not a glamorous radio job.  I am the lowest totem on the pole.  This is the job you take when you're starting out in radio, not the one you take after twenty years in the business. It is a lonely, lowly job.  The people are nice, but since I work weekends, I almost never see them.  Also, since I work weekends, I am alone and  justified in my worry about being vulnerable to not-so-stable radio "fans". 

It is for that reason that I checked all the doors in the building to make sure they were locked and secured before I buried myself in a studio, solitary and oblivious to the outside world.
I was checking the last door, the back door, when I saw him.  A black cat huddled against the cold.  In the middle of the yard.
Odd.  Most animals would seek shelter on a day that threatened snow.  This one was out in the stark elements.

I cracked open the door.  He did not bolt at the sound.
I called out, "Hey buddy!"
He turned his head slowly, his eyes full of pain and sadness.
"You okay, buddy?"
He was not okay.

Get him safe, I thought to myself.  Get him warm.
Well, I also thought to myself, I can't bring him in here.
I'll call the humane society!

But first, I thought I should probably make sure the cat didn't have a collar.  Make sure he was really in need of help and wasn't, say, perched on top of some prey and that I had completely misread the situation.
I ventured out in the cold.
"Hey buddy.  You okay?"
As I approached, he mreowed mournfully.
"Just taking a look atcha, buddy.  Can I come over there?"
I kept a safe distance, kept talking softly, circled him as he continued to mrow sadly at me.  His white feet were dirty.  I don't know why I thought it, but I was pretty sure dirty feet on a cat was bad.  My heart sank. 
Throughout my cursory inspection, the cat never hissed which told me he would accept help if I would give it. 
He was not wearing a collar.
"Hang on, buddy.  Let me see what I can do for you."

Food, is what I was thinking.  I did a mental inventory of the contents of my purse.  I had a protein bar; would he eat it?  The staff refrigerator had a strongly worded notice on its front warning against stealing food that belonged to someone else.  I ignored it and threw open the door.  A half gallon of milk caught my eye.  I poured some onto a paper plate, warmed it a few moments in the microwave, and headed back outdoors.

"Hey, buddy.  Do you want some milk?  Are you hungry?  I brought you something.  Are you okay?  Will you let me come over and give you this?"
Just babbling.  Calming myself as much if not more than calming the cat.
I held the plate between us expecting a warning hiss the closer I got, but it never came.  Only that mournful meow.  He sniffed enthusiastically as I set the plate next to him.  Very slowly and with visible effort, he unfolded his legs from underneath himself and moved over to accept the milk.  He lapped it up as if he hadn't eaten in days.

While he ate, I made phone calls.

Turned out the local humane society couldn't come collect a stray cat at the radio station because the building is in a section of town regulated by another district.  But when I called the appropriate district, the man told me he was only allowed to pick up dogs, no cats.
WTH?
He then proceeded to spout his frustration with the current political climate between his district and the county humane society which was resulting in my predicament.  When he began suggesting that I appear at the next county board meeting and share my experience in order to facilitate change, I stopped him. 
"I don't live in this county.  I don't vote here.  I'm not interested in the politics going on.  My only concern at this moment is finding help for this one cat.  If you can't help me, what are my options?"
The man gave me some suggestions, I thanked him for his time, and began dialing.

What I learned with every call was that I'd have to contain the cat somehow.  No one would even drive to me unless the cat was either indoors or in a cage.  The moment of truth was upon me.  Would I risk my safety attempting to move a stray, injured/sick animal into a building with no guarantee that anyone would in fact ever come to remove him from the building once he was in it; or, would I leave him where he was because there wasn't anything I could really do for him?

I should have given it serious consideration.  I should have measured all the consequences of my choice.  But I didn't.  There never really was a choice; I knew I could never leave him there.  I could not do nothing.
I stepped lightly toward this soul, speaking softly, calming us both.  I slid my hands around his body and lifted him from the ground.  As I disturbed his matted fur, the smell hit me.  Manure.  For just a moment I was holding every barn cat I'd ever lost.  My dad was great about hiding a lot of the truth about barn kitties from me, but once in a while I'd find one in the cattle pen.  The cats would climb in there to warm up next to the cows and, well, not come out.  I never appreciated until this moment the patience and kindness my mother showed me by letting me bring these dirty, broken critters into her house.  And she always helped make up a bed of old towels in the mud room to keep them warm and comfortable until they eventually passed away... usually while I was a school. 
I tucked the black cat under my arm.
"It's okay, buddy.  I'm gonna get you somewhere warm.  Get you some help."

I put him in the women's bathroom with some more milk and closed the door.

Now.
To actually find that help I promised.

I called The Husband.  "Hi honey.  I did something silly."
I gave him a short version of the story I just told you.  And I know exactly what he was thinking as I told it.
First, he worried that I might have been exposed to rabies.
Second, he worried that I might want to bring the cat home.
I immediately assured him that neither of those was a possibility.

This wonderful man of mine decided he would drive across the county to bring me our cat's pet carrier so I could take this stray wherever it needed to go.  No need to hunt for a shelter that could come collect him; no worry about waiting for help that might not come for hours... or even days.

Good lord.  It had never occurred to me I might have to tend to this cat until the following Monday.
See how I didn't consider all of the possible consequences?

The Husband said he'd pack up the cage and some cat food.  He'd come right away.
I picked a good man, I tell you.  I did.

When I checked on the cat, I found him hiding behind the toilet sitting in a puddle of his own urine.  He stood and wobbled over to me, meowing softly.  He stopped in front of my feet.  I don't know if he was waiting to be pet or picked up, but he stood there and waited.
I would have loved nothing more than to cuddle him, reassure him with my touch; but he was oh so smelly and now... he was soaked in pee.

While I waited for The Husband, I went back to my phone list starting with the nearest shelter and talked to a gal named Sam.  "I know you can't come pick up this cat, but can I bring him to you?"  The answer was yes.  Blessed day!  Thank you, I'll be there this afternoon.

I managed to get some work done between peeking in on the cat and looking out to the parking lot for The Husband.  When he arrived, he wrangled the cat into the cage for me.  The Husband was amazed at how subdued the cat was and finally felt reassured that I had not been scratched or bit by this very, friendly creature.
"Thank you for supporting your silly wife," I told him.
"Not at all!  Honey, this is the kind of stuff that made me fall in love with you."

Before I took my precious cargo to the humane society, I walked to the houses next door to the radio station and let them know I'd found a cat.  None of them owned a black cat, and no one knew of another neighbor who did.
No collar.  No one to claim him.  I felt okay taking him out of the neighborhood.  And can I tell you... how did he get a coating of manure on his feet and belly?  There is no farm near the station.  He was probably dumped out here.
How lucky that he had dragged himself into the radio station's backyard.  How lucky that I had been paranoid enough to check the doors when I first arrived and saw him huddled out there.  How lucky that I had parents who, when I hauled various injured and sick cats into our house, allowed me to believe that it was the right thing to do.

So, I talked to and soothed my new furry friend as I drove to the humane society.  He answered with intermittent mrows.  The gal at the shelter took the carrier from me, promised to return it after she had found a cage for the cat, and asked if I'd like to say goodbye before she took him in the back.
"Good luck, buddy.  They'll take good care of you here."

The drive back to the radio station was lonely.  The carrier was empty.  And very smelly.
I cleaned up the women's bathroom.  There were several urine puddles.  I threw away all the paper plates and wrote a note to the owner of the milk apologizing for taking some without asking first.

And then I had a thought.
"Hey Sam," I said over the phone, "if it turns out that the cat belongs to some little old lady who can't afford the fee to take him home, call me.  I might be able to help."
Sam took my phone number and let me know that the cat was an older unneutered male, and he didn't have an ID chip.  So, chances are good he was someone's barn cat and no one was going to come around looking for him.  And if I know farmers, no one was going to pay to get a barn cat back from the shelter.

I called during regular business hours a couple days later to check up on him and learned sadly but not surprisingly that my new furry buddy had not survived.  I choked out a thank you to the lady on the other end of the phone, and she thanked me back for caring enough to try to help.

Because they took him in, because they kept him warm and comfortable and perhaps helped him find his way to the Rainbow Bridge, and because I had loved so many barn cats, I sent a Christmas check to a humane society in the middle of a political mess in a county where I can't vote.

For the kitties.
For all the barn kitties Young Roses couldn't save.
For all the kitties I've ever loved.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The One With Tommy Lee Jones

I dreamed that I was flirting with actor Tommy Lee Jones.
He said to me, "Aren't you too young for me?"
I replied, "I'm three years shy of 50.  I'm not 'too young' for anybody."

:-)