Monday, September 9, 2013

Apparently My Life Is One Big WTF Moment After Another

I realize bloggers tend to exaggerate or embellish, so I'm here to say that I really try not to do this. Mostly.

This is relevant because something completely surreal occurred today and it's going to sound like I'm totally making it up.

I woke up to a metric shit-ton of racket outside, and proceeded to find a Hollywood movie set in the woods outside my house.

I've mentioned that we live in The Hundred Acre Wood, and it's pretty isolated here. And when I say isolated, I mean there's a few houses in my immediate area, but everyone's house is on a plot that has a good deal of land around it so we're looking at trees, instead of into each others windows.

Also, it's very quiet. And we like it that way.

We have nothing but woods for miles behind our home. The only thing back there is a hunting camp owned by a sweet elderly couple. There's very little activity except when it's hunting season.

In the past few months there's been more going on with utility companies running lines, some heavy equipment doing who knows what back there. But still, it's fairly quiet.

So imagine my surprise upon waking up and getting ready to log into my computer for work, I heard what sounded like a parade of loud truck engines outside my house.

It turned out it that it was in fact, a parade of loud truck engines right outside my house. They were all idling there, waiting to turn onto the little dirt road next to our property that leads to the hunting camp.

This was highly unusual. I figured they were doing some upkeep work there or having a family function. Or something.

So I listened to to all and sundry going in and out for an hour before the doorbell rang. A relative of the family who owns the camp stopped by to let me know a movie was being filmed. “Oh, like a college thing?” I asked. No, an actual real movie, he says. And they'll be back there for a FEW WEEKS.

For serious.

Okay, well I figured Mr. RelativeToTheFamily was embellishing a bit, and we're talking some “movie” that someone was “filming”, probably being done with the help of friends and family in the hopes of breaking into Hollyweird. It can't possibly take weeks, right?

The Relative mentioned the director's name and what the film was about, and even said to stop by if I wanted to visit. I thanked him, said I work from home and I might stop by later just for fun, and went back to work.

Then I watched a long, loud line of cars, trucks, golf carts, ATVs, equipment, etc. head back into the woods. Dog was going out of his mind barking at everyone and everything. Taking him out for doggy business was getting to be incredibly difficult since all he wanted to do was protect the homestead from these intruders.

So I got that itch in my brain that maybe I should look up this “director” on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

Well imagine my surprise when I see that he actually has a number of proper films under his belt, and lo and behold, there's the movie he's filming now, BEHIND OUR FRIGGIN HOUSE.

With actual, Hollywood actors. We're not talking Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, but definitely recognizable actors.

Yay us.

I've been trying to work and take conference calls during all this hoo-ha, and it's been a challenge. Of course, I'm also peeking out the windows trying to see what's going on. Granted there's a good deal of woods out there obscuring the view, but I can see what looks like set building and lots of people running around.

Now I'm wondering what I'm going to do if they're filming and Dog has to go outside. The only way to get him to go is to walk him around the entire property. He's gonna stand there and bark his face off at the crew. What happens if they're filming at night? Are we going to be able to sleep with all this activity? There's strange people milling about everywhere now, which is kinda creepy.

I'm intrigued and annoyed at the same time. I'll have to see what happens tomorrow.

I'm thinking by the end of this I'll be quite happy for Hollywood to go on home.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bitch... Please

Driving back from errands today, I heard the radio edit version of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. Now I've heard the uncensored version many times and I don't have a problem with it, although I understand a number of ladies have their panties in a bunch about the lyrics being “rapey”. Meh....for me it just doesn't register high enough of my scale of things to worry about.

It's catchy, even though the song sounds like it's been sampled from Marvin's Gaye's Gotta Give It Up. I'm more of the generation that hates the whole idea of sampling. Go write something original already.*

Anyway, they get to the part in the song that says “You're the hottest bitch in this place.” ( classy, I know ). Well, for the radio edit, instead of using “bitch” they substituted “ho”.

Really? ...ho?

I realize I'm not up on my urban-speak, but last time I checked, HO was short for WHORE.

I understand that term is used regularly in music, and I properly don't care. However, I would like to point out (and I'm probably splitting hairs from a gangsta-perspective) “bitch” does not equal “ho”.

So I was left scratching my head, because this meant someone actually thought that an urbanized, shortened version of WHORE is more wholesome for the afternoon radio audience's virgin earballs, and therefore less likely to offend than “bitch”.

Has this person been residing in a deep cave in the Amazon, under a moss-covered rock since 1970?

“Bitch” stopped being an insult somewhere around 1985, people.

I equate calling a woman a “bitch” with calling a man an “asshole”. By the way, I know plenty of “assholes” that are perfectly happy to own that.

Look, I'm no raging feminista, but if you were to poll most ladies today, I can pretty much guarantee most of us would prefer “bitch” to “ho”, thank you very much.

* Also... get off my lawn.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mowing The Line

There have been so many things in the news recently that I wanted to write about. Unfortunately, I have been warned time and time again (especially in the last few weeks) that social and political bloggery could be interpreted a certain way, and the upshot would amount to a one way ticket to unemployment.

Since I happen to like my job, and I especially like receiving a paycheck, I'm left with the topics of dogs, cats, spiders, general stupidity, driving hazards, having a teenager, and cicadas.

Speaking of cicadas, they peaked two weeks ago. That photo of the bug-covered shed from my last post is nothing compared to what it looked like when it peaked. And the noise... ugh.

The brood hatched around 1 billion per square mile, although I'm fairly certain that's just in my backyard alone. I tried sucking up the corpses and shells with the lawn tractor bagger thingy, and it didn't work very well. Once we got a heavy storm, it knocked all the bug shells off the trees and other vertical surfaces leaving me with piles of rotting, stinky bugs.

Speaking of. Since Hubby had been traveling, that was also the weekend I finally had to mow the lawn. The grass had grown too tall to ignore, and Dog would sink. All I could see were ears and tail.

Now, I was told how to operate the mower/tractor about six years prior, but promptly forgot all of it. I never used it, so my brain marked the information “inactive” and locked it away, never to be found again.

Between Daughter and I, we got it running. I started on one small patch. After making my first pass, I realized nothing was happening. Cutting, I mean. Oh yeah. I probably should drop the blade, right? Shut up.

So I dropped the blade. I did not realize it had several levels - not just “up” and “down”. So what did that mean? It means I dropped it all the way.

After going about ten feet I stopped to check my progress and saw that I was basically tilling the earth. I wasn't overly attached that patch of grass anyway, and it'll grow back, right?

I played with the blade handle and found a setting somewhere between “doing nothing” and “goodbye grass”.

Once I got the gist of it, it was really fun.  

Monday, June 3, 2013


So I've been known to complain about the schizophrenic weather here in Pennsylvania. Two weeks ago we had a week of temperatures in the upper 90's (in old money Fahrenheit), immediately followed by temps hovering around 30 degrees and a frost advisory.

Last week the weather began a swing back to sweltering temps, and this time I knew we'd be in for the Great Molting. In other words, cicadas.

Thursday began with a few that climbed onto the shed. Today, there are hundreds if not thousands between the shed and the trees:

Gross, right?

There's nothing we can do until they're done with their bug business. And yes, the dog wants to eat them all. He's already had a few and I've had to suppress my gag reflex during his prolonged chewing.

It's bad enough their molted shells are stuck to everything, but there's also adult carcasses strewn all over the yard now – large black fly-things with huge, blood red eyes.

I assume they died immediately following bug-sex.

And they smell. The combination of hot weather, giant buggy shells and dead bodies are making it quite stinky. I read I'm supposed to rake them up and get rid of them, but we're talking about raking an acre area. That ain't happening. Well, I suppose we could get the lawn tractor leaf collector thingy out and suck up the corpses. Maybe I'll try that this weekend. The lawn will be due for a mowing by then anyway.

It's so loud I can actually hear them inside the house. It's a whirring noise, like a flying saucer from a 1950's sci-fi movie. One managed to get into the house today. I picked it up to chuck it outside and it nearly vibrated out of my hand while making very angry pphhffippt!! noises.

So about the heat. It's kinda normal for us to have a few freakishly high temps in the late spring, but not this much. When it hit 99 degrees on Saturday, I gave up and went to locate the air conditioners.

Hubby is traveling, so I had to figure out how to get three 50+ pound air conditioners from the basement, to the second floor, then into a window. As much as I like to whine about losing weight, I'm actually a small person. Hubby can usually accomplish this in about an hour. It took me nearly three.

First, I realized that carrying them upstairs while still in the box was impossible – my arms are simply not long enough. I unboxed the first two in the basement, then carried them upstairs. These were the newest, and the lightest. Once the first one was in, the second one went fairly smooth.

After tackling that, I figured I'd take a crack at the third, larger air conditioner. This was the one that I also donated a pint of blood on, thoroughly bruising the hell out of my arms. I would also like to note, if I ever find the engineer that designed the air conditioner, and the method of install, I intend to punch him/her. 95% of this thing hangs in midair, outside the window, making it extremely wobbly until you put the sash down.

The other models had one badass screw in the middle that held it to the window. This one didn't. Apparently the engineers were having a contest that day for installing air conditioners that weigh more than dark matter, with the least amount of hardware. For example, this is the only clamp they provide to attach it to the window sill:

Ignore the duct tape. It's just there to look pretty.

Basically, that clamp and the sash are the only things holding it in place. Actually, I take that back – there's also a clamp at the top of the window to keep the sash from accidentally sliding upward. Big deal. Like it would have killed them to include a second clamp for the other side of the AC?

Oddly, it feels sturdy-ish, but I'm not taking chances. I don't even want to breathe on it wrong. I'd hate to have it flop out of the window and flatten my lovely cicadas.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dogs Are Weird

Or maybe it's just our dog.

I think he's a cross between a Papillon and a Border Collie. His ears are huge, he's considerably larger than any Papillon should be, and tends to "herd" us. But he's a very happy dog...

...and an oddball. He'll have a perfectly good bowl of kibble or soft food, yet he'd rather go outside and eat everything he can wrap his dog-lips around:

Those clods of grass that fall off the mower
Dandelion puffs
Rabbit turds
Stink bugs
Dried worms on the driveway

I've read it's either an attention or boredom thing, or a massive case of pica. I'm leaning towards attention/boredom because he probably needs some longer daily walks.

With his interest in eating/attacking nature, I wish he'd get a taste for spiders. It's disgusting, but at least I could get behind that weirdness. Also, this was on the porch last night:

That sucker is about three inches across. I guess spider season has begun.


Saturday, May 18, 2013


OMFG John Hurt as The "Forgotten" Doctor ! I can't wait for November when they run the 50th anniversary special.

p.s. River Song !

p.p.s. Can we please have a spin off for Madame Vastra and Jenny already!?!?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Making Mountains Out Of Dongles

I've been pondering my experience in the workplace and wondering if it's unusual. I've had a (mostly) happy career with supportive people around me, most of whom were men. My only truly lousy work experience was due to crappy management and a workhouse atmosphere, not sexism.

I don't think I've ever experienced true sexism/sexual harassment. If I did, it wasn't anything that registered high enough on my radar to worry about. Yeah I know... I'm sure there's women out there that have had someone make their condition of employment based on sexual favors (I'm looking at you, Hollywood), or were not fairly considered for employment or schooling because of gender. However, I'm not sure how prevalent it is these days. And I'm talking about real, straight up harassment – not “Oh, a guy at work told me he liked my new outfit. I find that offensive.... boo hoo.” Sorry, but that's not sexist or harassment.

I began thinking about this because of an IT news story that popped up a couple months ago:

In a nutshell, a woman at a programming conference overheard two guys talking to each other about “forking a repo”, and making a dongle joke (“Forking a repo” is actual programming slang). As for the dongle joke – so what? It's silly, adolescent and kinda funny, but certainly not offensive.

The guys in question weren't even speaking to this lady. If she was really bothered by their comments, she could've put on her big girl panties and asked them to keep it down because it was distracting from the lecture. (She claimed she didn't say anything because she didn't want to be heckled, or ruin her experience. Geez Louise. That's fucking life, isn't it? For everyone, male and female. If you're going through life avoiding confrontation, you're not living.)

But no, she handled the situation in a passive-aggressive manner meant to publicly shame them. She took their photo, posted it to Twitter and her (apparently popular) blog, indicating she was offended by their sexual remarks. One young man lost his job. The young lady lost hers as well. Some morons made rape and death threats. On top of everything, her company ended up with a denial of service attack courtesy of Anonymous.

Scenarios like this really frost me because throughout my career I've been told to look for any form of sexism or sexual remarks. Anything that could possibly insult my delicate female sensibilities should be reported immediately to human resources.

I didn't get into IT thinking I could behave as a hot house flower. The field was male dominated and the work was hard. I didn't want special treatment, I wanted challenging and interesting work. I wanted to be treated fairly and move forward in my career because I did a good job, not because the guys were afraid of being reported, or because I met a human resources diversity requirement.

Back in the 1990's, I had an HR director that would pull me into her office almost monthly to make sure I was “doing okay, since I was working with all men”. Seriously, she said that. HR Lady made it sound like I was working with a team of sex-starved maniacs that have never seen a female before, have no manners and behave like animals. In that scenario, who was the one actually being sexist? Two guesses and the first one doesn't count.

I went through great pains trying to explain to her that nothing weird was going on, I didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable and yes, I really enjoyed working with the guys. These are the same men that gave me the opportunity in the first place, trained me, and most of all treated me well. She couldn't wrap her brain around this so every few weeks she'd “check in on me”.

After a while, the HR Lady realized she wasn't getting any juicy details from me and tried a different tactic: she would regularly try to persuade me to join the local “women in business” group that she belonged to, which I declined. She sold it as a support system for career women - which at the time sounded reasonable especially if you're looking for a job, but based on her behavior it put me off.

In retrospect, maybe I should have joined if only to say that in order to succeed, sometimes you need some perspective and a sense of humor.

Were there dongle jokes? Nope, most of them were way worse - especially by today's standards. And guess what? We all had fun.

Did I have some men say rude things to me? Yep, and I said rude things back. In my experience, dishing it back usually put an end to it. Sometimes people are just assholes and it's not about gender.

On the other hand, I'm sure there were people I worked with who thought I was inferior simply because I'm female - but they didn't articulate that. Nor did they prevent me from being promoted or doing my job. In other words, their personal thoughts about me weren't acted upon, and therefore have no impact on me.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, maybe my experience is unusual. I still don't work with a lot of women, but the ones that I do work with seem to have similar career experiences as me.

Are there women still being harassed, or being treated in a sexist manner? Probably. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. Maybe certain career paths attract it? Guys get harassed too, but that rarely makes headlines.

It just seems like I'm constantly hearing about how sexism/harassment/chauvinism is rampant, and it makes it sound like women are still being treated like it's 1950. The thing is, the article above demonstrates the extreme consequences of making a mountain out of a dongle.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Another Brilliant Idea.....not.

I've been looking for a way to jump start my weight loss... again. I really like doing low carb because it broke me of sugar cravings, but I've reached a point where not much is happening anymore.

Granted, part of this is due to sitting behind a computer for 10 hours a day, coupled with the fact that the stinkin' groundhog lied about Spring so it's still cold as Jack Frost's nutsac here.

There's really only two things I missed while being on a low carb diet: pizza and rice. Not together obviously, but as separate, delicious entities.

Pizza is pretty much out, unless there's a “pizza only” diet out there that I'm not aware of. Rice, on the other hand, has several. Specifically, a brown rice detox.

So, in one of my stupider moments, I jumped all over that. It's only a week, right? Plus it's really high fiber, so that's good, right? Like a pooping yourself thin.

Well, I did it for a whole week. I ate mostly brown rice, vegetables, fish and water. Lots and lots of water. Low calorie and very low fat.

By the second day, I was thanking God I worked at home because most of my time was spent in the bathroom.

Then on the fourth day, my intestines went on strike and stopped working altogether. I woke up that morning having all the bodily discomfort of a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy, but without the impending birth.

Or so I thought.

By the fifth day, I reenacted the John Hurt scene from Alien.

Days six and seven were fine, but the bloating was ridiculous. The experiment was over.

Still, I was pretty happy I made it a whole week on mostly vegetarian and low fat foods. I honestly thought I'd have something good come out of it, but no. I actually gained weight.

I don't know how much because I refuse to use a scale, but my jeans are tighter than they should be.

How can someone actually GAIN WEIGHT on a low fat diet?

Rice is ruined for me forever now, or at least for a very, very long time. But maybe that's a good thing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hi There

Hi....yeah. Just a small hiatus there.

Okay, not actually that small.

I managed to not die of boredom, and finished my systems architecture class. Honestly, if I was a young 20 something and hadn't worked in IT before, I don't know how I would have passed. It really wasn't an undergrad class. That's just my opinion though.

In other news, Daughter finally got her license. This also meant having to buy a cheap-ass car in order to facilitate any real autonomy – for both of us. Yeah, I could just have her drive my car when it was available, which is pretty much never. It would also mean continuing to drive her around to every extra-curricular and social activity. Anyone with teenagers knows this is a full time job by itself.

So yeah. Cheap Jeep. So far it's only been in the shop once, but thankfully it's got “good bones”. These things live forever. I had one for the better part of 12 years, and know other people who kept them running for over twenty. Plus it has the added benefit of four wheel drive – since we live in the Snowy North - and lots of actual METAL to act as a giant bubble around said teenager. I mean geez, cars are all plastic these days. Anyway, more on the used car experience later.

You may have noticed I stopped bitching about work over the past year or so (well, I should say any of the three people still reading this blog. I figure I've lost all readership due to grievous blog-neglect). Anyway, I finally like what I'm doing. Also, not being on-call 24x7 is beneficial to not having a heart attack at 44. I'm just too old for that. Still, it's not that coding didn't hold a viable future for me, only that coding at my last job was a bullet train to a fresh circle of hell.

Hubby is traveling for work a lot more now, so I've got doggy detail. This is fun because the dog mostly doesn’t listen to me, and usually pushes the envelope by acting like a two year old on crack.

The most unsettling part is taking the dog out before bed. We have lights around the house, but obviously not in the forest, which is right over there.....and there is nothing creepier than shining a flashlight into that thick darkness and seeing ten pair of green eyes staring back at you.

Have I mentioned that the dog doesn’t like to be rushed with his bowel movements? He can't just go outside and do the needful. No, he has to make a round of the yard and inhale any remnants of his previous deposits, eat rocks, and roll around in a musky, flattened patch of grass where I presume the deer have been camping out. So while he's sniffing around doing doggy things, I'm shivering and hoping that whatever is giving me the stink eye from the woods isn't hungry and/or have large teeth.

Our's a good thing he's cute.

On the cat side of things, well, he's still on the Kitty Prozac. So far so good, six months and no extraneous pee. He's still a complete asshole though.

Our's a good thing he's cute.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Random Conversations Part 1

On the way to the gym...

Daughter: “Ugh. It's way early. I'll be asleep by the time we get there.”

Me: “You could have stayed in bed.”

Daughter: “No, I want to do this. Wait....ewww. What's that smell?”

Me: “What smell? Oh, yuck. [rolling down window] It must be skunk.”

Daughter: “That's just nasty.”

A few minutes later....

Daughter: “Oh man.....gross, another skunk. Can't you smell that? [rolling down window]

Me: “Well, we're almost there.”

Daughter: “What is it with skunks and the early morning? This just stinks.”

Me: “So you're saying 5:00 AM smells like skunk butt?”

Daughter: [Giggles] “Yeah, but is it actually the skunk's butt?” I mean, they have a gland or something that makes the smell, right?”

Me: “It's a gland, but I think it's in the butt area. Skunk-butt area.”

Daughter: “I can't believe we're talking about skunk-butt at 5:00 AM.”