Posted in random

Welcome to my nightmare….

So after much thought and deliberation, here I am with a blog.  I plan to put a lot of things I’ve already written (and I will let you know stuff like “this was written in FB on   /  /  .”), as well as general musings, and probably a bunch of stuff about my weight loss (man do I have a LOT to say about that).  I welcome you, I warn you, and I send you on your way.  Stay on the path, be out of the woods before dark, and don’t trust the wolf that says he knows a shortcut.  He’s full of crap.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ways I’ve Saved Money

Before I even start this, let me tell you that I am not any kind of financial guru, these are just things that worked for me.  I know that everybody’s financial situation is different, and we are in a pandemic, which ends an extra layer of crap to everything.  But these are things I’ve done over the years that helped me, maybe they will help you, maybe you can take them and tweak them to your situation.

#1:
One of the first things I started doing to save money was, ironically, to pay more.  Yes that sounds counterproductive, but allow me to explain.  On all of our monthly bills that I had when I did this: car note, electric, water, phone, etc I paid over the amount listed (we could not do this with our rent, but your management may vary).  Not by a lot, just a little.  I’d round up everything by $5.  Electric bill was $35?  I paid $40.  Water bill was $28.72?  I paid $30.  I’d round up to the nearest five dollar amount.  Why?  Simple.  When your next bill comes in, it’s five dollars less.  If you run up the same electric bill, next month, it will be $30.  Be sure to pay $35.  It rolls over every month.  Pretty soon, you will get surprised with a $0 bill for something – a free month. 
This method is how we paid off a 5 year car loan in 3 years.  I kept over paying, and each month, the bill would be adjusted to compensate.  Keep in mind that with car and mortgage payments, they want to keep you locked in for X number of years.  If you pay only the minimum, you are paying mostly interest, and just a small amount of the actual price for the car/house.  You pay $5, $10, or $100 extra one month then look at the next statement.  You are still locked in for 30 years (or whatever), but your monthly amount has dropped a bit (depending on how much you paid over).  This helped us a LOT as our car note at the time was $300 (it was a brand new car).  After a while of  overpaying, one month, the minimum was something like $175.  That month was actually a bit lean, but I was easily able to afford $175 vs $300.  The next month, I went back to overpaying.  I remember our last bill on the car was about $75.  I remember writing that check, and on the memo line where I always wrote “car payment” and the month, I wrote “car payment” the month, and in big letters PAID IN FULL!!!  Over paying a small amount now, can help you during the lean months.
#2:

Cut the cable.  I know everyone tells you this. But you don’t have to completely cut it if you don’t want to. I haven’t.  But definitely LOOK at your cable packages.  Yes, all those movie channels are nice, but how often do you actually watch them?  Is there work around? 
We have expanded basic cable at my place.  We have that for BBCAmerica (because Doctor Who), AMC (because Walking Dead), and SyFy (because…I’m not sure anymore).  Can you get by on something like that?  Check into alternatives also, like Dish or Sling, and see what they offer.  If it’s cheaper than what you pay for cable, either cut the cable OR call them and let them know that you found a cheaper alternative.  Sometimes they will give you a deal
DO NOT buy one of those antennas that they advertise on TV that can give you “free” TV.  You WILL NOT get cable channels, no matter what they tell you.  They don’t work.  You MAY be able to get basic channels for free, but it depends on how close you are to where the signal comes from (city vs rural area), any interference along the way (mountains, buildings), and even where in the house your TV is.  Here is one of my favorite YouTube channels, Freakin’ Reviews” testing three of those: https://youtu.be/z7JKPDBkz-M (copy/paste for the review).
#3:
Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, etc. can be your friends if you cut the cable.
Just about every network now has its own streaming platform.  If you find that you watch 4 shows a week on the CW, maybe look into the cost-effectiveness of getting CWTV. com or the CW app.  If you have kids, I have heard that Disney+ has been a godsend during quarantine.  Not too long ago, if you had Verizon, you could get Hulu for free!  And then there’s Netflix.  Well, it’s Netflix.  And if you know someone who will let you use theirs for free (like your parents or something), then by all means, hop on it.  But paying for it is iffy.  We actually have it ourselves and are debating getting rid of it.
Back when Netflix started, you would get on a 1,2, or 3 DVD system, and they would send them to you in the mail.  And boy were you excited to get those movies!  Now, you fall asleep scrolling through, trying to find something to watch.  It’s great for binge watching shows, it’s how I watched every damn season of American Horror Story.  But how many times do you really want to watch Scrubs?  Some of their original programming is pretty good.  Some of it…not so much.  I really don’t think Tiger King would have been the phenomenon it was if we hadn’t been in a pandemic.
#4:
Use coupons and loyalty cards.
I cannot stress this enough.  I know paper coupons aren’t really a thing with most people getting grocery delivery, but loyalty cards are.
We shop at Safeway every single week for groceries, and the pandemic hasn’t changed that.  But now, where we used to go to the store, we get delivery.  Paper coupons are not able to be used on this platform (which sucks), but our Club Card takes off cash every single time.  Just about every store has some sort of loyalty card: Safeway, King Soopers, CVS, even Kohl’s so not just grocery or drug stores. 
And here’s another way to save some extra with coupons and loyalty cards.
I’m sure most of us have savings accounts where you have a little bit taken out of your check every pay period to go to your savings (if you don’t have a savings account, for heaven’s sake, open one, you usually don’t need much to start one).  Even when I was only working part-time, I had $25 taken out of each paycheck (I got paid every 2 weeks) and put into savings.  DO NOT trust yourself to do this yourself, because you will say you will do it and you won’t.  Even if you put as little as $5 from each paycheck, that is still a little bit that can get interest. 
One year, I decided to go the extra mile.  Whenever you use coupons/loyalty cards/buy sale items, at the bottom of your receipt, it says, “You saved $____ today!”  Let’s say it’s $7.63.  As soon as you get home or get the receipt go online and transfer $7.63 from checking to savings.  It’s a small amount.  Do this EVERY TIME you shop.  Sometimes it might be 2 or 3 dollars.  One CVS trip I did a few years back, I saved almost $40.  I transferred it.  Let me tell you, that little bit grew.  I was going to a convention (SteamCon) in October of that year.  I was also staying extra days as I had a friend who lived there and we were going to go sightseeing.  I was able to pay for my round trip airfare (SF to Seattle), five days in the hotel, my convention badge, and almost all of my meals on what I had saved over a year.  Did I fly first class? No.  Was the hotel nice and did I stay in a room alone?  Yes.  It was a great system, even if I do say so myself.
#5:
Use browser extensions.  (This part has affiliate links, but it won’t cost you anything to use them…help a sister out, y’all.)
I cannot believe how many people DON’T do this.  I use Honey regularly, and when you go to check out anywhere like Amazon or even when we shop at Safeway, Honey kicks in and usually says something like, “7 Coupons Found”.  It finds coupon codes for you.  Then all you have to do is click “Try Coupons” and Honey will run them all for you.  If any of them work, it will automatically deduct the money from your total.  Once we had two coupon codes that worked for our grocery delivery, totaling $20 off!  If none of them are available, they let you know “You have the lowest price”.  This also works with Amazon, they will let you know if a product you want to purchase on Amazon is the lowest online price.  If you want to try honey, all you have to do is go here, no tricks, just another way to save some money: joinhoney.com/invite/av5l7b6 (copy/paste of course).  Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is another browser extension.  If you are shopping online at a store that Rakuten works with, it will pop up in the corner of your screen.  Usually something along the lines of  “You can get 2.0% cash back with Rakuten”.  You click on that, and it sends you back into where you are shopping through a Rakuten link (nothing on the screen looks different, it’s all fine).  When you are done, it will sometimes also give you coupon codes (like Honey does).  If Honey doesn’t give us any good codes when we do our groceries, then we go through Rakuten because then at least we get a little back!  So if Rakuten says “We’ve found 7 coupons” just click “Apply Coupons”.  Sometimes you get money off, sometimes you don’t.  But with Rakuten, you can get money back.  It’s not a lot, but it’s something.  After you get a minimum of $5, they send you a check.  The checks go out once a quarter, so if you’re buying a lot, it may be bigger.  Our first one was for just under $20.  And if you don’t reach $5 in a quarter?  No worries.  Rakuten will keep rolling over whatever amount you have until you get there.  You don’t lose that $1.25 you got from Ulta.  Here is a link for Rakuten:  https://www.rakuten.com/r/LARPOP4?eeid=28187 (copy/paste).
Another browser extension/app that you can try is Ibotta.  With Ibotta you go in beforehand to whatever store you shop at that is an affiliate of theirs.  For us we’ve used it at both Safeway and CVS.  You click on whatever it is that you know (or think) you are going to buy, and each item has a value, from 10 cents up to $1.00, sometimes more.  After you shop, you take a photo of your receipt (if you shop online, go through their browser extension, much like Rakuten).  It finds the things that you bought/checked, and gives you money for those things.  After you get to $20.00, you can get a check or gift cards from them.  The only thing I don’t like is that their browser extension is only through Chrome, so if you have Firefox, Safari, or Opera, you can’t use it online, but you CAN still use the app from the app store on your phone.  If you are interested, here is a link for Ibotta: https://ibotta.onelink.me/iUfE/8cc13c64?friend_code=ffgaxgy (you know the drill).
Another one is Fetch Rewards (Gretchen finally made “fetch” happen!).  I used it at first, well over a year ago, but I had trouble uploading my receipts.  However I may go back as I have a better phone now, LOL!  Info on Fetch Rewards: https://www.fetchrewards.com/

So anyway, maybe this helped you or gave you ideas.  Good luck!

Posted in Uncategorized

My Problem With the Amber Alert

Please read this whole post before you come for me!

I think the Amber Alert is a great tool, and I know that it has helped recover children, and I think it’s wonderful.
The Amber Alert was named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman.  She was abducted in Arlington Texas in 1996, and a few days later, her nude body was found in the woods with her throat cut.  The person or persons responsible were never found.

Her death led to not only the Amber Alert but pushed a National Sex Offender Registry into law, spearheaded by her father and the father of kidnap/murder victim Polly Klass.
So why do I have a problem with it?

If a child is abducted, EVERY SECOND COUNTS.  Every minute they are gone is another minute where they can have something terrible happen to them.  There is, of course, criteria for Amber Alerts:

  • There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
  • The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
  • The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
  • The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.

(source: U.S. Department of Justice Official Justice Programs website: https://amberalert.ojp.gov/about/guidelines-for-issuing-alerts )

I am aware that these criteria can take some time.  But I have NEVER received an Amber Alert through my phone, computer, or television set that wasn’t at least SIX HOURS after the abduction.
Six hours is a lifetime.  If you don’t think so, I invite you to sit underwater and hold your breath for 6 hours. 
A lot can happen in six hours.
You can drive from San Francisco in Northern California to Long Beach in Southern California.  You can drive from S.F. to Reno in a little more than half that time.
You can drive to a train station and hop on an Amtrak to anywhere in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada.
You can get on a plane to anywhere in the world.

I saw an Amber Alert a while back.  This woman had her son taken by her estranged baby daddy ex-boyfriend.  He beat her up, took the kid, and left.  She called the police immediately.  It happened in the Bay Area, and the Amber Alert went out TWELVE HOURS LATER.  In the end, they found the kid at the home of the ex’s mom, and of course she had no idea where her son was and didn’t know that he had taken the baby.  Yeah, I don’t believe that shit either.But for crap’s sake, TWELVE HOURS?  There’s gotta be a better way!
Sad fact:
“In 76 percent of the missing children homicide cases studied, the child was dead within three hours of the abduction–and in  88.5 percent of the cases the child was dead within 24 hours.” (source: https://www.atg.wa.gov/child-abduction-murder-research)
If there is a chance of the child being killed within as little as three hours, then an Amber Alert going out 6, 12, 18 or more hours later is useless.  All those places an abductor can go in six hours?  He can still go there if he’s killed the child he snatched. 

The Amber Alert should, at most, go out within the first hour of the child being taken.  The sooner you can get more eyes out there looking, the more likely that child will be found.  A frightened child shouldn’t have to wait six hours, and neither should frantic parents.
The Amber Alert is great, but it can be better.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pirating Music Is Wrong!  Or Is It?

Don’t come for me based on the title.  I 100% believe that ALL artists should be paid, and paid well, for their contributions.  I have friends who are musicians, painters, dancers, writers, illustrators, and 99% of them are struggling because they AREN’T paid what they deserve.  Because no, Karen, exposure isn’t what they need, it’s rent.

So why the title?  Because I want to know how many times I am expected to pay for the same album.

Here’s the perfect example: Def Leppard’s Pyromania album (and y’all can shut up because I know of at least 2 hard core goths who have admitted that their first albums were Donny & Marie, and John Denver, respectively).
That album came out in 1983, and I bought it on vinyl, as vinyl was still a viable format.  1983 was the first year that cassettes overtook vinyl, 48% vs. 45%, but many people still had record players, and I was one of them.

By 1988, the record player was gone, which meant that if I had any old albums that I still wanted to listen to, I had to buy them on cassette to go with my awesome double cassette “boombox” as they were called (the giant ones were referred to as “ghetto blasters”).  So I bought Pyromania for the second time. My music collection also started to get much bigger, and for the first time, I surpassed having 100 albums. They were all on cassette  in these nifty wooden racks.

 

Fast forward about 10 years.  Most of my cassettes weren’t sounding as good as they used to, the tapes getting stretched or warped.  If you had cassettes, you know the horror of hearing THAT SOUND, rushing to open the tape deck, and finding your album literally becoming unspooled.  If you were lucky, you could stick a pencil in one of the holes and wind it back up, and it would be ok. Sometimes, it would never sound right at that spot on the tape.  If you were unlucky, the damn tape would be torn. You could try to repair it with a teeny tiny piece of scotch tape (although that didn’t always work).  Usually you chucked it in the trash and bought a new copy. My copy of Pyromania had been unspooled.  Although I was able to wind it back up, it was all crinkled, and Joe Elliot’s voice warbled sadly half way through “Too Late For Love”.  Unacceptable. I had a CD player then, so I bought a CD copy.
This was the THIRD time I had bought this same album.

At some point, this CD got loaned to somebody or I lost it in one of my many moves or it got stolen (we had a maintenance guy who was coming in when no one was home and helping himself to my music, leaving the cases behind so it was sometimes several weeks before I realized they were gone – we put a keyed lock on my bedroom door and put a stop to that).  In any case, it was gone.

I can buy it again from Amazon, if I like.  They have a CD of it for $10.70 or an MP3 for $14.49.  If I want it, I have to pay for it.
Again.
For the FOURTH time.

I haven’t bought it, even though I do love the album, and don’t know if I will.  It seems wrong to have to buy the same album four times. I’d love it if there were a way to say trade in your vinyl for cassette, cassette for CD, then if you liked from CD to MP3.  That won’t happen because the record companies would lose money, and so would the bands.

But for the record, I have NEVER pirated music.  By the time I got a computer with internet, Napster was already all over the news, and there were stories of grannies being sued for hundreds of thousands because their grandkid had downloaded Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits for them, and a Limp Bizkit album for themselves.  There was no way I was gonna do that. I was in college full time, and working for minimum wage part-time. I had no time for that nonsense.
napster-logo-416x198

But to this day, it seems somewhat unfair to have to pay for the same damn album several times over.  It’s also the same with movies. You went from VHS/Betamax to laserdisc to DVD to downloads. And the movies cost so much more!  A VHS copy of say E.T. could run you at least $80.00 (if not more) when it was available on VHS/Beta, then you bought it again on laserdisc (if you were unlucky enough to get one of those), then again on DVD, and then if you got a download, you paid for that movie FOUR TIMES.

While I’m sure there is a better way, and the industry does know it, we will never be made privy.  And man, does that piss me off.

Posted in repost

Just Some Thoughts on the Coronavirus Quarantine

(posted on my FB 3/11/20)
You know how they are isolating travelers who show any symptoms of the virus and also people who actually have it full on? They say they are taking them to an “undisclosed location” for treatment, and the names are never released.
I get that.
That is for not only safety, but personal privacy.
The last thing you need is some nut job trying to hurt these people just because they are sick.
But have there been any reports from the people they take?
Are they allowed to call their families and check in regularly?
How long does the treatment take?
How are they keeping the people who ACTUALLY have it separated from the people who MIGHT have it?
What are the options if treatments fail?
What about the doctors who are treating them, how are they keeping their own families safe?
I am not a conspiracy theorist in the least.
I believe the Earth is round.
I believe the moon landings were real.
(If you disagree with either of those things, you might want to remove yourself from my friends list.)
But I also know what our government and humanity is capable of.
Ever see “Miss Evers’ Boys”?
Or “Das Experiment”?
Hell, even straight up fiction like the prisoner experiments in “V for Vendetta”? (Yes I know that was set in the U.K., but damn if the U.S. isn’t looking more and more like that move every damn day.)
Best case scenario: these patients are getting great medical care, and are maybe a little bored and missing their families.
Worst case scenario: see any of those movies above.
Basically, when had the U.S. EVER offered 100% free, top of the line medical care at no charge for anyone?
If this country “can’t afford” to house the homeless, how can it afford to treat an increasing number of people, that are sent to these secret locations, all free of charge?

Bottom line: I have way too many questions and no answers.

Posted in review

Alpha Foods Burrito Review

#GotItFree #trynatural  (This is a sponsored post for Alpha Foods.  I received coupons to try the product for free, and my opinions are my own.)

So I got these free coupons to try these “plant based” burritos.  I was, shall we say, “skeptical”.  We’ve tried plant based beef at the house, and the stuff tasted bad and smelled worse (OMG it smelled so bad).  But I figured, “Hey, it’s free, let’s give it a shot.”
They had four flavors: Chik’n Fajita, Pizza, Mexicali, and Philly.  The Safeway we shop at only had two, the Chik’n and Philly, so we got those.
We zapped one of each in the microwave, cut them in half, and each had a half of each kind.
We were pleasantly surprised!
They didn’t smell funky, and they were actually quite tasty!  The Philly one was of course a Philly cheese steak type, and was very flavorful.
The Chik’n one was good too, it had something a little spicy for a bit of a kick, but not too bad (I’m a big baby when it comes to “hot”).  The only drawback was the tortilla one this one.  Although they both used a white flour tortilla, this one stuck to our front teeth a bit when we bit into it, but not a big deal.
We would definitely buy them again, and we are actually going to look for the Mexicali and Pizza ones to try.
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Posted in Uncategorized

Fernando Lamas and Esther Williams (and a Little Bit of Johnny Weissmuller)

For a year, I lived in this apartment complex that was kind of dumpy, but it had a pool.  That and the fact that we could have pets there were the only good things about it, pretty much.

The pool was inside a cyclone fence (it was an outdoor pool), and it was locked from September to May.

I lived there with my boyfriend at the time, and for weeks I’d been telling him that I heard ducks overhead.  I’d even gone outside once to be sure, and saw then flying in a “V” formation. He told me that there were no ducks nearby, and that I was crazy and hearing things.  For the record, we had Canadian geese at the golf course 4 miles away in one direction, and ducks resided at a large state park 4 miles in the other direction. Why wouldn’t I hear ducks?  It wasn’t crazy at all. It was very possible.

Then one day, I was proved right.

Two ducks showed up in the pool.

Just swimming about.

To this day, I have no idea why, but there they were.

 

They came by every single day.  They would swim around and hang out for awhile, then leave before dark.

 

They were mallards, a male and female.  I started to feed them every day, and named them: Fernando Lamas and Esther Williams.  (Look them up if you don’t know who they are.)

I would get home from my horrible part-time job at Kmart, grab the mail, and walk around the pool to get to my apartment.  One or both of them would walk with me, on the inside of the fence. They’d watch me go inside, and wait patiently for me to come out, knowing I’d come out and toss bits of bread through the fence for them.
I’d sit with them for awhile as they ate, making these soft, quiet, happy, quacking sounds, while my cats watched from the windows, wanting desperately to come out and “make friends” with them.

Now and then, a lone male would show up.  We called him Johnny Weissmuller. (Again, look it up if you don’t know who he is.)  I fed him too, when he came. He would only come once or twice a month, and never when ‘Nando and Esther were there.

Except for one time.
He landed in the water on the opposite end of the pool once.  I guess he and ‘Nando didn’t get along because there was much commotion and ‘Nando chased him away.  Duck fight! Duck fight!
And then there was the one time I didn’t feed them fast enough.

I used to feed them, hang out for a bit, then go back inside and check my email and do whatever.  One day I got home and decided to check my email before feeding them.
Mistake!
While waiting for my email to load, I could hear LOUD quacking outside.  Like REALLY loud. I remember thinking, “Damn, Esther’s really noisy today,” as she was the more talkative of the two.  I stood to look out my kitchen window…and there was Esther, right outside of it, pacing back and forth, quacking.
She knew where I lived, and when I didn’t come out and feed them right away like I normally did, she made her displeasure known.  There are few things in life more embarrassing than being called out by a duck. But I got my butt out there quick and never made them wait again, so she trained me well.

Come May, the pool opened.  I moved a few months later, so I don’t know if ‘Nando, Esther, and/or Johnny Weissmuller ever came back.  That was about 2007, so by now all of them are deceased.
But I still think about them.  I was going through a hard time in my life, and it was nice to know that somebody was happy to see me every day.
Even if it was just some celebrity ducks.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Heads In the Garbage

Anybody who has known me for a while remembers the 2 years I spent working at Hallmark. It was in a rather large strip mall that also held a Safeway and CVS, as well as several other little stores. For us, on one side there was a Nation’s Hamburgers, and on the other side was a beauty supply store.

One night I head out back to take out the trash. The dumpster is in this little house like structure that gets locked at night. So out I go, into the little house, toss the bag into the dumpster, all is well……until I turn around.

There are heads lined up on the floor near the door, where you will only see them when you turn around.

WOMEN’S heads.

LOTS of them.

Had I not already gone to the bathroom beforehand, I would have peed my pants right then and there. I saw my life flash before my eyes, sure that a maniac was in there with me and the last thing I would see would be a machete coming towards me.

It took about 2 seconds (the longest 2 seconds of my life), to realize…they weren’t real.

They were old heads from the beauty supply store, complete with hair and blue eyeshadow, they used them to show the hats and scarves they also sold.

When I walked in, the manager I was working with (Veronica), asked if I was ok, as I looked pale. I told her about what I saw, so she went running out back to have a look. She came back in and said, “That’s creepy as hell! They did that on purpose!”

I honestly think that is where most of my gray hairs came from.
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Posted in Uncategorized

Why Fascism and Nazism Is On the Rise

Just a theory of mine.
Neo-Nazism and fascism are on the rise in this country. Why?
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Think back to your school years.
Did you learn about World War 2?
World War 1?
The Civil War?

I didn’t.

Just about every year, history class started in the same place: Christopher Columbus “discovering” America, and History teachers who didn’t know what to say when we asked how you could “discover” a country that already had a bunch of people living on it.  And we never got much farther than that.

In 7th grade, our class got these brand new history books.  Cracking those beauties open and flipping through them, we saw that they had nine chapters, and the final chapter actually got into the late 60’s.  We were so excited! And hey, nine chapters, nine months in the school year – it was perfect!
We never learned about the 60’s because we spent an entire month on learning about the Emperor Constantine and his lineage.  We never even got as far as Plymouth Rock.

In 12 years of schooling, even in so-called “American History” classes, we never even learned about things like the United States Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.
We never learned about the Civil War, why the North fought the South.
We learned about Christopher Columbus and what a “great guy” he was.*
Without looking it up, I could not tell you who fought in World War 1.
We did not learn about Nazis or Concentration Camps.
I did not learn about Japanese Internment camps until I was already in my 40’s and saw a documentary on PBS.
I never knew that we had imprisoned our own citizens who were guilty of nothing other than essentially being a different nationality.

We all know the education system in the United States is broken.  Kids who can’t read past a third grade level are graduating high school because it’s better to get them out and unprepared than make them repeat a grade with underpaid teachers.
But we are not learning about our own country.
We did bad things too, and we need to own up to them.
And the worst thing we have done, is to NOT teach our kids about the bad things and atrocities in the world.

We are repeating the history we never learned.

*- the guy was a fucking monster.  Check it: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Riding An Emu

This is an allegedly true story, told to me in a bar one night.  The guy said he was a “Sonoma cowboy”.

So this guy went out drinking with his buddies one night.  They went driving back home along the back road highway up in the hills and they passed by a couple of emu farms.  Suddenly our cowboy got the bright idea that he was going to ride an emu from one of the emu farms.
So they turned the car around and drove back onto one, sneaking onto the property.  They opened the gate and the emus were just sort of hanging out, I guess. Sonoma cowboy picked one out and climbed on it’s back.  The emu, of course, freaked out and took off running…right out of the still open gate and down the highway.
With a cowboy on it’s back.
Holding on to the emu’s neck.

And of course, that is when a highway patrolman came rolling along.

I can only imagine the level of  “WTF???” this cop was thinking. He rolled up next to our cowboy, rolled down his window and said, “Son, you stop that bird RIGHT NOW!”
“I’d love to, sir, but I don’t know where the brakes are.”
So the cop sped up a little and then blocked the road with his car and got out, and the emu stopped.
The cop asked, “Is that your bird, son?”
“No sir, it’s not.”
“Get off the damn bird.”
Sonoma cowboy got off the emu and stood next to it, still drunk, and holding onto its neck.  The cop then asked him, “Are you drunk?” (Personally, I think this was a trick question. When you see a cowboy riding an emu down a dark highway at 2 a.m., I’d think it’s safe to say there might be alcohol involved.)
“Yes sir, I am.”
The cop then told him he was going to give him a DUI.  But the Sonoma cowboy argued, “You can’t do that. I wasn’t driving the emu, I was riding it, and it’s not my fault that my friends left the gate open!”

The cop probably thought that this would be the stupidest and most embarrassing report he’d ever have to write (“I arrested a drunk kid for riding an emu down the highway”), so he asked if they had a designated driver, and Sonoma cowboy said that yes, they did.
He told him, “Alright son, this is what you’re gonna do.  You’re gonna take that emu back to where you found it, WALK it, don’t ride it.  You gonna put it back in its pen and close the gate. Then you’re gonna get in your car with your friends and get the hell out of here.  I’m gonna drive to the end of the highway, get a coffee at 7-11, and come back. If I see any of you bastards out here, I’ll arrest all of you!  You understand me?”
“Yes, sir.”

So in the end, he walked the emu back, put it back in the pen, closed the gate, and drove off.   They never saw the cop again.

And he never rode another emu.

Or so he says.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Steampunk Fairytale

(first posted on LJ 3/15/09)

One night in his lab, the wicked Dr. Zaftpunk decided he needed an assistant. It was so hard for him to make his deadly potions and evil torture devices all by himself. Especially since he got clumsy at times as he was fond of his rum. But where would he find an assistant? He couldn’t really trust anyone. Loose lips sink ships, as the airship pirates he sometimes traded with told him. He needed someone who could clean up as well. But people just weren’t to be trusted. One night in his lab, it occurred to him: he would MAKE an assistant! And a pretty one at that! But none of that disgusting, grave robbing, Frankenstein sewing a body together nonsense. After all, he was a brilliant scientist. He would mix some potions and chemicals and oils together and make a beautiful, perfect, smart angel. But not too smart. It wouldn’t do to have an assistant smarter than he, after all.After several days and nights of hard work in the lab, he ran some electrical wires through a giant clay figurine in the shape of a woman and KABOOM!

Uh oh. Well…she was definitely female. Sitting on the gurney looking very confused in a tattered black and purple dress, with her hair in pigtails…and black and purple wings coming out of her back, gently rising and falling with each breath. Dr. Zaftpunk took a step toward her and she bolted off the gurney, flying up to the ceiling in the opposite corner of the room. She began flying about the room like a crazed bird, trying to find a way out, but there were no windows in the lab, and only one door, which he had bolted shut. She knocked over several glass beakers and decanters in the process with her thin legs, cutting herself badly, but never stopping her flight. Dr. Zaftpunk was highly amused by all of this. He just kept ducking when she flew by, laughing at her spirit and waiting for her to wear herself out. She threw herself fully against the walls and ceiling, trying to fly through them, trying to get away from this other creature that was laughing at her. She didn’t know what was going on. Finally she got so tired. She couldn’t fly anymore. Her legs were bleeding. She collapsed into the corner and curled into a little ball. Suddenly things started to make sense to her. After all, he had made her to be smart. He approached her again. And she was smart enough to know that he was a bad man. He cleaned her wounded legs and told her how things would be. That she would be his assistant in the lab. She could never go out into the world, because of her wings. People would try to hurt her and exploit her. She knew that much was true. But she knew he was as evil as they came. He made poisons and torture devices. Things that hurt people. How could that be right?

As she worked for him she chose a name. Zoe. Zoe Zaftpunk. She was much smarter than he knew. She watched and she learned and she remembered. And she was more than just his science experiment gone wrong, she was a bona fide fairy. A fairy of love and lust. Sometimes, when he went into town, she would sneak out of the basement lab and peek out of the windows. She once saw a young couple having a quarrel. She felt that wasn’t right, that they should make up. So with a little bat of her fairy lashes in their direction, without them even knowing it, they were making up. Zoe liked it when people were in love. It made her happy. Meanwhile, chaos reigned in the lab. She didn’t like Dr. Zaftpunk and his evil doings. So she would flutter around the lab, humming happily, and accidentally on purpose breaking things. Zoe didn’t want him to make things that she knew would be used to hurt and kill people. It made him so angry, but she’d be so apologetic and flutter her lashes at him, that he couldn’t help but forgive her. Until that night.That was the night that Zoe realized that her magic didn’t work on somebody who was evil and piss-drunk. She was sleeping on her little cot in the lab when the Doctor himself came stomping/stumbling down the stairs. Zoe opened her eyes, thinking, “Is it morning?” No, it wasn’t. Dr. Zaftpunk was drunk and on the warpath and headed straight for the little fairy girl. She wasn’t able to fly away before he grabbed her. He grabbed her and shook her so hard that fairy dust actually fell off of her little body…a rare occurrence. He blamed her for all the problems in the lab. And they really were her fault. Then he turned her around, threw her face first against the wall, and RIPPED HER WINGS RIGHT OUT OF HER BACK. Zoe couldn’t believe what was happening. She didn’t feel any pain, fairies don’t, but she just stood there in shock. Dr. Zaftpunk put some bandages sloppily on her wounds, and told her, “Now you’ll remember you’re place around here!” and stomped out of the lab, locking the door behind him. Zoe curled up on her little cot and cried purple tears. Was this the life she’d been created for? A slave to a crazed man? Now she couldn’t even fly away. What could she do?

The next day, Dr. Zaftpunk came into the lab, and was all apologies to little Zoe. He checked her wounds and stitched them up. She shuffled about the lab on foot, sadly silent, no longer humming happily. She was so silent, that he realized that sometimes she could move about in the lab from one corner to another without him even knowing. This disturbed the doctor greatly. He locked her in the lab one day and went into town and returned with a dubious “gift”: an ankle bracelet made of bells, also known as slave bells. Now he could hear her wherever she was in the lab. He told her it was a beautiful charm to cheer her up, and that he would be sure to get her wings again. Soon. She gave him a fake smile and thanked him. Neither trusted the other. It was his regular practice to lock her in the lab every night when he went to sleep. What he didn’t know was that Zoe was rarely sleeping anymore. She was working. She was trying to make a flammable liquid. And she was getting closer every night. Meanwhile Dr. Zaftpunk was getting in the habit of drinking himself to sleep every night. Zoe would listen at the door for his drunken snoring and start her evening exploits in the lab. One night, it paid off. She figured out the formula. She locked it away in her amazing mind, then started on the next phase of her escape plan. Getting out of the locked lab. Everything in the lab was glass. She needed a piece of metal or wire to pick the lock. The slave bells wouldn’t work, they were on a flexible chain. There had to be something. There was a sink, but what good would that do? No, no. Tick…tick…tick…she looked up at the clock on the wall. The hands were ugly and metal! She carefully climbed up on her cot and pulled it off using all the strength in her thin arms. She put in on the floor and smashed the front of it open by stomping on it barefoot, then ran to the door to make sure the Doctor didn’t wake. Nope, still snoring away. She pulled the metal hands out and set to picking at the lock on the door. It sprung open with ease. She closed the door again without locking it and ran to the lab. She quickly made a big batch of her flammable liquid and filled two of the biggest beakers with it. She tiptoed back to the door and walked out to the main part of the house. The doctor was snoring in his favorite chair, an empty bottle of rum by his side. Zoe looked out of the window at the dark night. She became so frightened that she almost turned back. What was out there? What would become of her, a fairy with no wings? She knew no one but the doctor. But then she realized that knowing the doctor was worse. She squared her shoulders and turned back to stare at this man who was pure evil. This man who had created her as a slave. Who had taken her wings. Who had kept her locked in a room, telling her,  “It’s for your own safety”. No more. She picked up the beakers and slowly made a trail all around Dr. Zaftpunk and through the rooms of the house and down into the lab. Then she went back up and made a trail back up and into what was his bedroom. It angered her to see that he slept not in a cot, but in a big beautiful bed. And she cried purple tears again when she saw one of her wings thrown carelessly on the floor. She wondered momentarily what had happened to the other one, then poured flammable liquid on it. Whether what he had said about people trying to hurt and exploit fairies was true or not, it was best to not take a chance. She found a book of matches next to his pipe on the end table beside him. She paused by the front door. Lit a match and said, “Goodbye, Dr. Zaftpunk. It’s been Hell.” Zoe dropped the match and walked away.

The house went up like a tinderbox. The fire house was called, but it was too late. Dr. Zaftpunk’s remains were found inside. They believe he fell asleep with his pipe lit and, well, accidents happen. He had some kind of room in his basement. It looked like a lab of some kind. His neighbors all thought he was a bit odd anyway.

And in all the panic and chaos of the fire, nobody noticed a sweet thin girl, in a tattered black and purple dress with her hair in pigtails walking away from the scene. Smiling happily and batting her eyes at all the couples.There was in increase in marriage proposals immediately after the fire.

The End