Monday, December 31, 2007

A Whole New Year

It's been a hell of a year. There have been major highs, and major lows. Joy, sorrow, and always plenty of love.

MattG asked the question on his blog, "Are you better or worse now than a year ago?"

The answer, for me, is better.

I'm back in school after a long hiatus, working towards my goals and my dreams, I've met a lot of great new people, started on the road towards getting my training business started, and made a lot of progress with Monkey.

I have friends and family who I love and who love me, horses to play with, people to teach and to learn from, and opportunities that I have no intention of allowing to pass me by. My grades for the semester were everything I could have hoped for and more, and the pride I felt was totally worth the late nights and headaches.

In the new year, I'll keep working for my goals, keep working on my horses, and add new responsibilities and opportunities to my list.

Resolutions? No, no resolutions, I'm where I want to be, doing what I want to do. I wouldn't change a thing.

Well, ok, I might could do with some... ahem... companionship.... in the new year, but really, that's secondary. If you put a new training challenge and a new guy in front of me, I'd probably be so far gone on the back of that horse that you couldn't see me before he could ask for my number.

Which might explain why there aren't men beating down my door.....

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I've had more company in the last day than I had the entire semester.

My friend and his sister made it in yesterday, Tev and her husband stopped by yesterday evening, and T came to see me last night, because we were watching The Bourne Ultimatum. Which, by the way, is excellent!

E was hoping to head back around midnight last night. I haven't heard if he did or not, I'll probably get a call sometime today.

The apartment looks at lot smaller with three people six feet tall and over in it.... No really. I feel like mini-me. Hmph.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It Appears...

That I owe a lot to LawDog and Ambulance Driver in terms of my readers. In honor of that, I decided to tell an EMT story and a cop story, which both have the same star.

Back in my shady past there was a guy I once knew. We'll call him John. (Farmmom, Farmdad, shush.) John's father is a doctor, and in a compromise between what John wanted, and his father's desire that John follow in his footsteps, John became an EMT. He was pretty danged good at it, too. I told him once if I ever had to be strapped to a backboard with my clothes being cut off, I wanted him to be the one doing it, because I knew he'd be focused on the medical stuff and not my hooters. Of course, John being John, he'd never let me live it down afterwards.

So, John being the highly efficient and serious EMT that he was, and our area's Emergency Response capabilities being what they are, he always kept a kit in his personal car, just in case. See, we don't have the ambulance standing by at all times. They have to contact the EMTs, who then haul ass to the ambulance barn and get the rig, and then proceed to whatever emergency there is.

John stayed prepared just in case.

One night, we were all hanging out at a mutual friend's house, with a bit of drinking. Mutual Friend's girlfriend had a sister in town, and John was in heat. The sister was enjoying the attention, giving a little mild flirting without crossing the line.

Well, John got started talking about his job as an EMT, and the sister, in the mild flirting spirit, began asking questions.

"How exactly do you do an IV? I've never had one."

Cue ominous music.

True to the behavior of the male homo sapiens in rut, John began his posturing ritual, ran to his car and got his emergency kit, and showed her. He placed a needle, explained the process as he did, and removed the needle. He did everything right, even making sure that he put the used (and covered) needle in the pocket on his bag that he used for his used sharps. She was entranced.

Cue ominous music again.

"Can I try?"

"Um. Sure."

Well, she followed instructions and placed the needle, everything was fine... then she pulled the tourniquet.

John yelped, applied pressure, pulled the needle, and washed everything down. Then he put away his bag in a corner, to be returned to the car later. He gave the sister a couple of dirty looks, but she batted her eyelashes, and all was forgiven, and he returned to the barnyard dance in short order.

He also returned to the drinking in short order.

A small explanation here. At this point Mutual Friend had a small dog that had a habit of running out the front door every time it was opened, so he had installed a baby gate on the outside of the door to prevent the pup from getting run over. On the other side of the gate was a concrete porch.

We'd been stepping over the gate going in and out all night, and John, after his fourth or fifth shot of Goldschlager, had been startled at it's magical appearance on the other side of the door.

John being John, he was on a mission that night to get a ticket for indecent exposure. Why? I don't know, he said he'd never gotten one before. So he was stepping out to the front porch to take a leak, rather than using the restroom.

Two beers and a couple of shots later, cue John's beeline for the front door. I, being a good friend, reminded him of the baby gate.

"John, don't forget the baby gate." No response.

"John! Don't forget to step over the gate!" Nada.

By this time he was at the door.

He swept open the door and kept on walking.

Or he tried to. The baby gate hit him at about knee height, but he had enough momentum that it carried him over the gate, to a perfect three point landing. Both elbows and his chin.

Out cold. Less than a minute, but long enough for all of us to get over to him and notice, and attempt to wake him up.

Of course, we had to tend to his road rash. So we used his own kit.


Later in his life, John decided to become a cop. One of the local small towns was entirely without a police force, and had been for a few years, so they agreed to hire him straight out of the academy. I figured it was pretty good for him, straight from the academy to Chief of Police. Since the little town was on the major highway that passes through the county, he liked to work traffic late at night. It kept him busier than working during the day.

I was bored, and decided to go do a ride-along with him one night. Met up at the Police Station (read: the garage with an office that was used as a police station) and signed the waivers, etc, and crawled in the squad car.

We talked and watched the radar, and he even let me push the buttons once.

Then he got one that he had to take to the jail, driving under revocation, no big deal. Since the jail was in the county seat, along with the single dispatcher for, well, everything, he called it in and we headed out.

Did I mention that the sheriff at the time was a family friend, and had known me since I was knee high to a grasshopper? And ditto with the rest of the jail staff?

When the dispatcher, who knew that John was coming in with an arrest, looked up and saw me following him through the door, she apparently blocked out the fact that there was another guy with us and he was the one in handcuffs.

"What did you do?!?!?"


"Then why are you under arrest?? I'm calling your mother!"

"I'm not under arrest! I'm his ride-along! That dude is under arrest!"

............... "Oh."

By this time the dispatcher had picked up the phone and begun dialing. Meanwhile, John is doubled over with laughter, and he can't even straighten up enough to put his gun in the gunlocker.

He called me "Criminal" for the rest of the night.

I called him "Porky" for a week.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Well, gee whiz!

I've been neglecting checking my Sitemeter, because, well, I've hit 10,000, and that made me giddy enough that I wanted to roll with it for a while.

Checked it tonight, and holy cow, I'm approaching 20,000! Ya'll still have about two thousand hits to get me there, but I've had over eight thousand hits in two months! And, I haven't really been that forthcoming with the stuff that I consider the "goods" so thanks to everyone who's stuck with me through the times when I really didn't have much to say, welcome to those who have recently discovered me, and I promise I'll try to get something good up soon.

I am curious though, about where everyone found me. So, if you're a regular, or semi-regular reader, leave a comment and let me know how you came to find my humble little corner of the internet, and what your favorite posts are.

I'm all for fan service, (and sometimes low on inspiration) so let me know what you'd like to see more/less of! You can also always email me and ask questions/suggest blog topics, the email is on my blogger profile.

Besides, as some of you may know, feeding my ego makes me want to write more :P

I'm gonna go ahead and offer the same thing for the 20,000th visitor as I did for the 10,000th, since that prize was never claimed. When I reach 20,000 hits I'll post about it, and the person that made the magic visit will get to pick a topic for me to post about.

I know, I know, I just told ya'll to give me ideas and ask me questions, but it's all I got :P

So, get those comments and emails rolling in!

A Relaxing Night At Home

So, since I have a few more minutes than I thought I would in between holidays, I thought I'd let ya'll know that I've survived the first portion, quite well.

I got a lot of great stuff from the family, all of which I love, and most of which I needed or wanted in the first place. The other stuff was stuff I didn't know I needed or wanted, until I got it. Although my family obviously thinks I'm a lush, I got a wine rack with four wineglasses (which jacks up the elegance of my apartment about four notches, as long as you don't pay any attention to the styrofoam plates on top of the microwave next to it...) and a margarita pitcher and set of four glasses. Plus a bottle of wine to toast the New Year with, although I've got the bottle of homemade strawberry wine that one of my friends and her husband made and gave to me last year in the rack now.

The battle between Farmmom and Farmdad over the new spiffy Olympus camera was highly entertaining (I told you to open that package, Farmmom!!!) and as soon as somebody emails them to me I'll post the best holiday picture (and future blackmail picture) of the year. (Hint, hint.)

Other than that, I'm just having a nice chilled out evening, company coming in Friday, and I have no idea when E is going to get here... He's hoping to be here by Sunday. We'll see.

I'm doing my best to stay far far away from stores until the after Christmas sale rush is over, because frankly I don't want anything that I can afford badly enough to brave that crap.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I'm finishing up the house cleaning I need to get done today, and tomorrow I'm headed for the Old Homestead for the family thing.

I probably won't be posting much until the new year, so I wanted to wish everyone happy, and safe holidays.

Remember, it's bad manners to strangle your family members at the dinner table. Wait until everyone is finished.

And, when celebrating New Year's Eve, "I'm gettin nekkid!" is not a resolution. Even if you're drunk.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

You'd Almost Think She Read My Blog...

Shortly after I posted my holiday rant earlier, I got an IM from Farmmom. She'd just got off the phone.

The hosting aunt canceled Christmas Day for the second year running.

I'd be a lot happier about the reprieve if the warning had come earlier so that we could plan an actual holiday meal. We were planning on having a smaller thing Christmas Eve with the family here because of the big to do up there.

Plus, since Prissy Aunt canceled, Grandpa's plans are shot. So, he'll come be with us on Christmas Eve, but we don't really have anything on Christmas Day because of sister in law's work obligations, and our obligations at Prissy Aunt's house.

Next year, I'm not even planning on going. If Farmmom, Farmdad, Grandpa, and me aren't "worth it" too her (a direct quote, because we would be the only ones there... the rest of the family made their own plans) then she's definitely not worth it to me.

Yay family dynamics!

Insurance Salesmanship- Three Stories in One Post

I think I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog that I was once a traveling insurance salesman. If not, then now you know.

I worked for a company that we'll call Crap Insurance Conglomerate of America. Now, I want to say right now that the product the company sells is good, for what it is. But what it is, is basically a sop.

They sometimes described themselves as Aflac without the duck. I think Aflac pays better benefits, but the premiums are also higher.

Yeah, the accident policy paid for anything that you would say "oops" after, but it didn't pay much. I think the highest benefit was a hundred and seventy five dollars for outpatient surgery. The cancer policy was pretty much along the same lines, the bare minimum, but neither of the policies were expensive. The accident policy you could get a full unit or a half unit, full unit was like twenty bucks a month and the half was eight, I think.

They were designed to help fill in the gap between major medical and your actual financial ability to pay. Unfortunately if you didn't have major medical, it was just a tiny bit of help towards what could be some huge medical bills. Any help is good help, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the end all be all solution that they wanted people to believe.

And, they did pay my travel to go to their training, and they did train me to pass the Accident and Health Agent exam.

The training itself... well. It was salesmanship training. It wasn't even training to think for yourself and assess the customer as to how to make the product appeal to them, it was basically drilling in scripts. We had scripts for everything. We drilled so hard that I wound up having to sleep in the living room of our suite because I was keeping my roommate up muttering responses in my sleep.

It was pure luck that I had an opportunity over a weekend between the sales training and the training on the actual laws that we had to know to get our licenses to explore Salt Lake City and discover that I'm violently allergic to massive doses of Mormonism.

No, really. We walked into the public area of the tabernacle and I started having stomach cramps. By the time we got back to the hotel I was fine.

Anywho, during the training we went over the Socratic Method. My trainer was Gene, and he was a lot of fun, but he got frustrated with me a lot. This conversation had him ready to pull his hair out:

"With the Socratic Method, you'd lead your customer to the sale using questions. You want to keep them giving you yes answers, because once you say yes, it's easier to say it again, and you want to lead up to your sale. For instance, if I were trying to sell milk and cookies, I might use this set of questions... Farmgirl, are you hungry?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Do you like cookies?"


"Do you like milk?"

"Uh huh."

"Would you like some milk and cookies now?"

"Not really, I'd rather have a ham sandwitch."

Gene hung his head for a second and then looked right at me.

"You're not helping me here,"

"But I really would rather have a sandwitch."

"But milk and cookies would be a valid way of satisfying your hunger, isn't that true?"

"Sugary snacks aren't a good idea for me on an empty stomach. Remember the Krispy Kreme incident? You swore anyone who gave me sugar before the lunch break was getting kicked out after I bounced off the walls for an hour and a half."

"Ok, if you'd had a meal and wanted desert, given your liking for milk and cookies, you would eat them, isn't that true?"

"What kind of cookies?"

"Any kind!"

"Well, if they were my mom's chocolate chip, I'd be all over them, but if they were store bought ginger snaps, I'd probably pass. The details are important, Gene."

Gene finally laughed and gave up on me after that.

The best selling line that I ever used wasn't learned at their training seminar, though. I came up with it when I was discussing the accident policy with a blue collar guy, owned and operated his own company, running those little miniature street sweepers that they use to clean parking lots.

I was leaning against the hood of my car, just talking to the guy, giving him an idea of what we offered and letting him decide if he was interested or not.

"Well, sir, I don't know about you and your guys, but I've worked construction and on a farm and I know that we always hated to have to call a mechanic when things broke."

"Yeah, we do most of our own maintenance."

"Well, I've noticed that when construction guys start working on a piece of equipment, they tend to do stupid things. Take off their hardhat and brain themselves crawling out from underneath something, or cut their hands up using their pocket knife to pry something loose..."

He chuckled and nodded, "Yeah, we get that too."

I tapped my presentation book, which I hadn't even opened yet.

"Well, we pay for stupid."

The guy was ready to hear about the policy but had an appointment right then, so I was going to go back that afternoon. Unfortunately my manager found out I had a possible multiple policy sale and had to butt in. He might miss out on a commission, aside from the large premium collections that he always took for himself. We're talking two and three thousand dollar premium collections, of which the collecting agent got fourteen percent. Any collection over five hundred dollars the manager cherry picked for himself, leaving us to make fifty collections on old nine dollars every six months policies that had absolutely no chance of upselling, in one day.

He lost me the sale. By apologizing to the guy about my lack of professionalism in using "we pay for stupid" when the guy brought it up. The dude was trying to get my manager to back off and let me handle things, because I already had a rapport with the guy, and my manager couldn't take a hint.

I also got my butt chewed for going off script, only to overhear him using the exact same line the next week.

Can anyone guess why I'm no longer an employee of that company?

The Regional Manager (the guy above my immediate manager) spent a week trying to convince me to come back, before I got blunt and explained to him exactly why I'd quit. One incident I mentioned had him really interested.

See, one of my duties was picking up premium from those policy holders that didn't have the payment automatically deducted from their accounts every month. This involved visiting them at home, or at work. All of them expected the visit every six months, so there weren't many disgruntled folks to deal with, but we got all kinds.

This particular premium collection was a man in his fifties. He and his wife both had policies, and I needed to collect both. Should have been an easy call, go in, get the check, give him his receipt, and get out. Knocked on the door, and a filthy, overweight guy in a wifebeater and boxer shorts answers.

Something creeped me out about this guy right from the start, and it didn't take me long to figure out. I told him I was there to collect his premium and make sure there wasn't anything he needed help with, and he said he had a claim he needed help with, so I went with him into his kitchen to make the toll free call to the claim center. We agents had some ways to get some of the tape cut through and get things accomplished, although it was mostly show so that the customer felt well taken care of by the agent that they saw every six months.

I called it in, and the guy on the other end of the agent hotline said he'd call me back on my cell phone in a few minutes, so I had to make small talk.

This dude out of the blue started telling me about how his wife wouldn't let him touch her because her uncle had raped her. Details that I really didn't want to know in the first place, and that I really didn't want to talk about when he started mentioning what a good looking young woman I was.

He would not shut up about it, he leered at me, he touched me at inappropriate moments, and generally made me feel really, really uncomfortable. I got out as fast as I could and immediately called my manager to tell him not to send another female to that house, ever.

I'm pretty strong minded. I can blow off a lot of things, even the slimy ones, if I don't have to put up with them very long. I can deal with just about anything an oversexed man can dish out, one way or another.

But this guy creeped me out. I declined to give him my number in case he had another problem, which I did with every account that I serviced.

My manager laughed at me. I was telling him that I felt sexually threatened and he laughed at me. He got a piece of my mind, and I made a note on the contact card that no woman should be sent there. We could put notes, mostly directions, or what times to call on someone, in a special area on the contact cards we were given for each lead or collection, and when they went back to the main offices some clerk would type them into the file so the next card printed out would have them on it. So I did. Hopefully, it's still there.

I knew women who worked for the company who wouldn't have been able to handle being around that man. I wouldn't have gone back there if it meant a million dollars. I didn't even finish my job, I walked out in the middle, claiming another appointment, and told him that the manager would be back to see him.

When the Regional Manager (who was actually a nice guy and tried his dangdest to figure out how to make it work to get me back with the company) found out about that one, he had a long discussion with me about the manager's practices in general, and in specifics.

I heard later that that manager got busted down from District Manager to Sales Manager, and I laughed long and hard.

Holiday Spirit???

I love my family, and I love having holidays with them. Especially since the Nephews have come into our lives.

But I hate the holiday season. Don't get me wrong it's not the season itself but the way people react to it.

Every time I have to go somewhere in public during this time of year, I feel like I should put on a full set of tactical gear and go in shouting "I don't care about the damn Elmo, I just want some eggs!"

Everyone gets so hyped up on getting the most popular gift, and so stressed out, every store is just a pressure cooker full of stress and anxiety.

I'm normally fine in crowds. I pay attention to my surroundings, but I don't get stressed out about a crowd. Except this time of year.

This time of year everywhere you turn someone is yelling into their cell phone about how the store is out of that special gift that they absolutely had to have and Christmas is ruined! Or kids screaming their heads off because mommy or daddy won't buy them that toy now now now! Or forty seven people all trying to get down the same aisle behind the one person in the county who isn't in a major hurry, and cussing about it.

It makes me want to strangle people.

It doesn't help that I know I'll be spending Christmas day at my aunt's house. My grandpa on Farmmom's side, and one of my uncles and his family, I love to death, they're fantastic.

Unfortunately, Farmmom has two sisters and another brother. Christmas day is a four star show in subtle snark and upscale snobbery.

But I get Farmmom's undying gratitude for going, and I'm usually not required to make conversation. One year I said exactly three words to anyone but Farmmom or Grandpa, and no one seemed to notice. Those words? "Pass the potatoes."

I regretted them, too. Those potatoes were lousy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Superglue and Puzzles...

I've done some puzzles in my day. I've even done a couple of those 3-D suckers, and they were fun.

However, the most convoluted puzzles are the ones that you have to figure out when you break something.

Mamaw sent a blender with me, because she doesn't use it and I was whining about not having one to make margaritas with for New Years.

I was putting it away when I dropped the base. At least it wasn't the pitcher.

It broke the back of the casing, down into the recess where the pitcher sits, but I tested it and it still runs.

So, I'm trying to glue it all back together, but the way it broke, the pieces all have to go inside and under, and it's a bit frustrating. I had to break out two pieces that I had glued in because I didn't have enough room to get another piece in.

My fingers are covered in superglue.

But, I have a tequila and Dr Pepper that I'm sipping my way through as I work on it. And, back episodes of ER on the DVR.

When I'm finished, or when I get everything done that I can without having to let the glue dry overnight, I'm going to go take a nice hot shower and use the lavender Egyptian Cotton towels that Mamaw bought me, put on my silk pajamas, and curl up with the remote and the rest of my shows.

Tomorrow, I'll clean and prepare for having anywhere from two to four guests for New Year's Eve. In a one bedroom apartment.

Whoever gets here first gets to claim the couch. Everyone else can paper rock scissors for which stretch of floor they want... I might wind up with someone on the floor of my bedroom.... A couple of the guys are big boys, and there really isn't that much floor space.

Guess I'll have to put away the whips, chains, and body oils......

If A Tree Falls In The Living Room, And No One Is Awake To Hear It.....

Is the cat still to blame?

I've been camping out at the Older Homestead (Mamaw's house) for the last few days, since she bribed me with ill-gotten gains she brought back from the Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma.

Yesterday afternoon, we finally got the Christmas tree put up. Yesterday evening, the Nephews came over and helped me decorate it. Elder Nephew actually did most of the decorating, and directed me in the rest, but Younger Nephew did his bit.

Do you have any idea how cute it is when a one year old boy toddles across a room with a Christmas ball to stand by his aunt's feet and very solemnly lay the ball on the lowest bough, cock his head and look at it, and then look up for approval? He got a big hug and kisses and told how fabulous he was, that is, until Elder Nephew decided enough was enough and tugged on my pant leg to ask me to lift him up so he could reach the taller parts of the tree.

We had a blast, the tree looked like a one year old and a four year old had been in charge of decorating it (those ones look the best anyway) and everyone was happy.

Except, apparently, the cat. Mamaw was glad she had to pee before she came into the dining room this morning, which caused her to take a different route than she might have otherwise. The tree had "mysteriously" fallen in front of the door from her bedroom to the living room.

If she hadn't needed the girls' room, I might have been having to pick her up as well as the danged tree.

Thank goodness we invested in the unbreakable plastic decorations when Eldest Nephew was just toddling around.... we never would have gotten all the glass out of the carpet.

I'm also pretty thankful that it's a fake tree, otherwise it might have been ruined.... I'm never entirely happy with the fake tree, I love the smell of a real tree, but I can't be around them. I'm miserably allergic, which we discovered when I was small. As long as the tree is alive, I'm fine. I'm even ok when it's fairly fresh, but when it starts drying out, even being in the same house with it causes my nose to plug, my eyes to swell, my stomach to become upset, and strange itchy rashes to pop up.

I know that I shouldn't get rashes unless I touch it, but I do, even if I don't know why.

My high school insisted on getting a real tree for years and putting it in the lobby where I had to walk by it, even though I stormed the office every year for three years to complain. The fourth year I just let it go. The fifth year (our high school and junior high were in the same building) I sat in the hallway just off the lobby for an hour before I stormed the office. The office workers and the principal walked by me a few times, so they knew exactly where I sat. When I walked in with my eyes red and swollen enough to be easily noticeable, used half a box of tissues to blow my nose, showed the rash on my arms and threatened to puke on the principal's shoes, they decided it might be a good idea to have a fake tree. For one year.

There's more than one reason I avoid claiming that high school whenever I can.

On another note... I'm back at the apartment now, to do some straightening up and stuff before the holiday, because I won't have time afterwards before company comes.

Five days at Mamaw's... my TV looks dinky after the fifty inch HD flat panel. My tree always looked dinky- it's only three feet tall, after all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Congratulations E!!!

Got a call from E today, he had some news.

Seems he checked his voicemail down here, and he had a message from Del. This, of course, sent Ed into a panic. He thought he'd failed his Speech final.

Turns out there was someone looking for E, and Del was passing on the message.

As soon as E gets back, he'll be employed on a local ranch. And training cutting horses. I'm so happy for him, it's a sweet set up. He'll have a house on the ranch, and he'll be able to show, which is what he's been working towards.

I guess the ranch owner (who's family has trained some pretty spiffy cutting horses in the past, I'm not up on their recent work, but they go way back with my family, cutting for fun and buying horses from us) has heard so much good about E that when he needed a hand, he went looking for good ol' E himself.

He was vibrating on the phone, he's so happy about this. And I'm just as happy for him.

Congratulations, E. No one deserves a break more.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

He Stole My Line!

Tuned into the NFR tonight (after straightening myself out on the actual air time, one in the morning is a replay of round nine on ESPN2, round ten was at seven on ESPN) only to hear one of the announcers totally gank my Superbowl line.

Now, I admit, it could be a coincidence. It was, after all, a rather apt comparison.

But, I don't really buy the whole coincidence thing. Especially when not believing in coincidences means that I was quoted at the beginning of the most gut-wrenching, suspense filled night in professional rodeo.

Admit it, Announcer Guy! You stole my line! Own up to your theft and get me tickets for next year's NFR, and all shall be forgiven.

And, if you pay for my hotel too, I'll throw in a blog post on the psycho gate habits of barrel horses, and why Molly Powell flipped her right rein up over her horse's head for barrels two and three.

No, really, I've probably got about a thousand words just on the gate thing. Course, once I revise so that I'm not calling them some variation of psychotic in every other sentence it might be less, but it's total quality!

Friday, December 14, 2007


I forgot....


National Finals Rodeo Round Nine is tonight. Round Ten is tomorrow night/Sunday morning. Technically here in Colorado it starts at one in the morning on Sunday.

Depending on how exciting tonight is, I might just have to stay up and watch it live, anyway.

For those of you who don't understand what National Finals Rodeo is, all of the rodeo cowboys and cowgirls in the country fight tooth and nail to qualify for NFR. It's the top competitors in Bareback Bronc Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Barrel Racing, Tie Down Roping, and Bull Riding, all competing for ten days straight, night after night, and against the best stock in the country for the right to be called the best in the country.

The top earning cowboy will break $400,000 for the year in prize money, even if he doesn't win the buckle in any of his events.

There are cowboys who have three events a night, at least one of them usually rough stock (bronc or bull riding) and there are a lot of injuries. They're all competing anyway. (And they wonder where the phrase "Cowboy up" came from....)

It's the pinnacle of the rodeo year. It's the Superbowl, except instead of playing one game, you play ten, one every night, and the other team (being the critters) gets to physically beat the crap out of you over and over again.... And you don't even have the satisfaction of thinking that they're just as tired as you are because they get rotated out.

It's so great!

Now, That's Just Weird...

Ya'll may remember my post here about how I tripped on the stairs in the lecture hall. Well, the touch tenderness is finally pretty much gone... it hasn't been bad for a couple of weeks but the bruise was still present and it was still tender when I pressed on it.

I had honestly kind of forgotten about it, until I thought tonight to check the bruise and see if it was gone yet.

Got to poking around... and I have a dent.

An honest-to-goodness crease in my kneecap.


I never thought you could dent your body! Even with my rather spectacular acts of clumsiness I've never managed to leave a dent before!

What am I supposed to do about this?? Sand off the paint and smear some Bondo in there?!?

It doesn't hurt... the patella is still in one piece, it won't flex no matter what pressure I put on it at whatever angle, and everything seems to work just as well as it did before it happened.

So, to my medical readers... Should I be worried? I mean, is this something I should get checked out? Since it doesn't seem to be causing any problems I would really rather not have the doctor's bill, if I don't have to. However I'm not medical enough to know if this is likely to cause a real problem, or if there's anything that can be done about it at this point anyway.

Besides, I'm curious to see if anyone has heard of this before. If I'm much of a medical oddity maybe it can make me some money....

A girl's gotta eat, ya know.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Perspective

Thanks to OK Katrina for slapping me upside the head with a realization.

Katrina mentioned Monkey, which got me thinking.

It's a training issue. I have to train myself not to smoke.

And, in training, you build upon the previous lessons.

You don't take a horse that's never seen cattle and expect them to do a perfect cut right away.

You break it down into steps, work on each small step until it's easy for the horse, and then move on to the next.

I started to do that, by cutting back on my smoking, but I wasn't cut back enough to go to cold turkey when I ran out of cigarettes. I had my horse loping on the proper lead, and then asked it to run 13 second barrels. It just doesn't work that way.

And, in case of training failure, you back up, go back to the basics, and build from there.

So, I'm backing up.

I bought a pack of cigarettes, and I'm going back to the cutting back stage. I bought menthols, because, frankly, they're disgusting to me, and that makes it easier to resist.

The cigarettes are on the top shelf of the pantry, far enough back that they're difficult to reach. The lighter is in the junk drawer. The ashtrays are over the stove.

I have to expend effort to get a cigarette, but I'm not going to expect myself to be perfect right away anymore.

I had been thinking of this as just a matter of making myself do it, and do it now.

Thanks again, OK Katrina, for reminding me of what I should have remembered myself.

So. Re-training, Day One. It's going to be a long road, but patience will get me there faster than force, I think.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ok, ok...

So I slipped. About seven thirty tonight I remembered a half a cigarette sitting in the ashtray of my car.

I managed to get one of the doors open, without causing permanent damage, and I smoked it.

So, slip number one from complete cold turkey.

I don't have any more butts in the car. The next slip is going to require that I go somewhere to get it. Which will make it easier to resist.

The bad part is, it seems completely sensible to slip. After all, quitting will be so much easier if I don't tax my body too much, a complete cold turkey quit is a shock to the system, and makes a person feel like complete crap, whereas a tapering off... not so much. So why make it harder on my body?

That is, it seems sensible to slip, until after I've done it.

Admission of failure, even a small failure, is a thing that comes very, very hard to me. I've physically injured myself rather than give up on something that I've made up my mind to do, before.

I'm very stubborn. Usually.

I think addiction makes us all weak. Which totally sucks ass, if you ask me.


I should explain.

I re-read that last post and I realized that some of you out there may not have any clear idea of why I'm so touchy.

Maybe you've never seen withdrawals, or maybe it's never been clear for you, or maybe you just don't give a crap but typing this keeps my hands busy so sit down, shut up and bear with me until I'm done.

Nicotine withdrawals are relatively mild, don't get me wrong. Nicotine withdrawals don't make you physically ill, the way, say, heroin does. At least not to the fever, nausea, just-kill-me-now point.

However, I'm only a few hours into complete nicotine withdrawal, and I know the symptoms from previous attempts. Most of them, for me, are psychological.

I'm jumpy, I'm nervous, I'm paranoid and suspicious of everything, my mind keeps popping up images of cigarettes to taunt me with and I can't focus for crap.

Meanwhile my hands tremble whenever a craving hits, I get slightly light headed on occasion and I find myself wanting to punch something roughly every five seconds. If I were a cat I'd be the one that follows people around mewing piteously until they try to pet it, whereupon it turns and rips their arms to shreds, only to resume mewing piteously and not understanding why they chase it with pitchforks.

The worst part is, I know that all of these are irrational responses, that I don't really need the nicotine to be a happy person, blah blah blah, all of the usual crap. I know all of that.

Which only makes me more frustrated when I can't control them. Which makes me want a cigarette to calm down. Which starts the whole thing over again, only worse.

And all of this means that every time someone invades my personal space bubble in a way I can't ignore, I want to squeeze their heads like a pimple until gray matter shoots out the top and I get to fingerpaint with it!

No, really. That's what my brain wants me to do, just in case the adrenaline rush of running from the cops in some way resembled the light headed dizzy rush I'd get if I had a cigarette right now.

So, now you may have a better insight into nicotine withdrawals, or maybe I'll read this in a week and go "wtf was I thinking?!?"

We'll see.

My Resolve

Not to kill people is being tested. Some strange man came knocking on my door.


If I wanted to talk to him I'd have answered the door the first damn time he was standing out there dancing like he was about to wet himself.

If he comes back, I'm not promising he won't be crying when he leaves.

I mean seriously, what's the point of locking myself in my apartment to keep myself from being a complete and utter bitch to everyone around me by the simple expedient of not having anyone around me, if they're going to not only interrupt my TV show with a knock on the door, but provide such tempting targets for viciousness as well?!??

Who could resist being mean to an overweight balding guy who stands around outside of strange women's apartments wringing his hands and dancing from foot to foot, while staring around furtively?!?

Either he wanted to attack me or it was his very first time approaching a real live female of the species.

I'm in no real condition to distinguish, at this point. I'd probably assume the first just because it would let me beat someone...

It's Official

I smoked my last cigarette at around two this afternoon.

The weather is conspiring to help me, for once. I went out to the car to get a book, earlier, and my doors are frozen shut.

So, I can't go out and get cigarettes. Unless I walk. A long way. In the cold.

All incentive to stay the hell inside and deal with it like a man.

Even though, you know, I'm not. A man, that is.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Well, I Was Going To...

I was going to go to bed. But then I realized, when I turned off the tv, that someone had very kindly ignored the laundry time instructions posted clearly on the wall, and was not only using the laundry facilities, but apparently making use of them to clean and tumble dry their brick collection.

Ten PM and it sounds like bronc riding on hardwood right outside my apartment door.

Problem is, I'm into the cranky phase of nicotine withdrawal, now. So, it's hard for me to distinguish what the proper response would be.

Figuring out who's shit it is and taking it to their door at three in the morning along with a gift of sense from my baseball bat sounds pretty good to me, but it's probably not very politic.

I'm sure neither is throwing all of their laundry out into the freezing rain, although it's tempting.

Oh, listen... someone else isn't happy about it.

Hmm. Interesting approach, just take the noisy shit out of the dryer, apparently. Of course, standing around yelling about it kind of makes that pointless, now doesn't it?

Ok, I'm going to go try to get some sleep now. Assuming another one of my kind neighbors doesn't decide to wash their rock collection at midnight....


Well. I'm on my last partial pack of cigarettes. All smoking items except for one ashtray which is sitting on the kitchen table where I can't see it for the pile of Ed's stuff, including that pack of cigarettes and my lighter, are in the back of the cabinet over the stove.

Today was a step down day. Half a cigarette, max, every hour at the minimum. Longer if I could do it.

I've managed just a couple of puffs every hour or so for the last few hours, and I'm making myself stand when I smoke. I would make myself go outside to smoke, but if i go outside into the cold it would be too easy to rationalize smoking the whole cigarette so that I wouldn't have to go back out into the cold as soon.

The hardest part so far is the psychological stuff. I'll reach for my cigarettes on the end table while I'm watching tv, and when I realize that they aren't there, and I'm not going to let myself smoke yet, the craving ratchets up about five notches, and I start twitching.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try for no cigarettes at all, but I'm not going to hate myself if I don't make it. I'm doing pretty good on cutting back (I was at a pack to a pack and a half a day, before I started cutting back) and that's definite progress. Besides, eventually, even with the strict rationing, that pack is going to run out.

Then I just have to stay in the apartment.

It doesn't all have to happen right now, and demanding that of myself would lead to frustration, anger, and failure.

As much as I would like to just flip a switch and never want a cigarette again, that's not the way it works. As long as I don't smoke more than I am at this point, I'm going to consider it a victory.

Considering the way my hands are shaking, just thinking about smoking now (it's been fifteen minutes since my last puff) I think it is a victory. It's progress, anyway.

Variable Star

Heinlein, ah, Heinlein.

One of my favorite writers of all time, the only author that I feel a need to collect all the works of not because I want to see the next part of the story (I do have a few that I collect because of the burning need to find out what happens next,) but simply because he wrote them.

I've read the majority of everything he ever wrote, with the exception of some of the short stories I haven't been able to find a copy of, and some of his political writings that likewise, I haven't gotten my hands on yet. I don't own them all, but the librarian at my high school had a running list of books to be begged, borrowed, or stolen from other libraries through interlibrary loan for me.

This, though. Wow. This book was supposed to be RAH, speaking from beyond the grave, through the medium of Spider Robinson.

I had some definite misgivings about it, to be honest. A Heinlein plot is simply not done justice by anyone but the Grand Master himself, and Robinson had only an incomplete outline and scribbled notes to attempt to do justice to a tale that stuck with Heinlein enough that he kept the notes, and kept trying to convince his editor to let him write it, even after it had been turned down.

My first reaction was complete indignation, when I first heard of the attempt. It was heresy, any tale not completed in it's entirety by RAH could only be inspired by the Grand Master, not carry his name as author, even co-author. Sacrilege.

Then I looked closer, and realized what the prize was. The plot was pure Heinlein, minus the ending, which was lost to history. Robinson merely had to fill in the blanks with the details.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple.

On to the book itself, now. Variable Star, as a story, is very good. Robinson is an excellent writer and the flavor of the book is one that is quite pleasing to the refined palate of a die-hard SF fan. The tone is part Heinlein, part Spider Robinson. It's written the way I imagine Heinlein would have written if he'd been born into our society today, wherein a few cuss words and vulgar jokes are nothing to get upset about.

Of course, Heinlein wasn't born into today's society, and his dignified way of putting across the dirtiest of jokes without once using a four letter word is signature. Heinlein had a grace with the English language that cannot be matched, only imitated.

Spider Robinson, thankfully, did not try to be RAH. He simply took a course plotted many years before, which Heinlein himself had never been able to sail, and took the journey, bringing us along for the ride.

The plot is very Heinlein, although I believe that Robinson could have made it more inclusive of the other Heinlein novels that tied into the storyline of Variable Star, if he'd wanted to.

The narration, the storytelling, is very Spider Robinson.

It's unique in the world. It is the last new bit of Heinleiniana. In a sense, it is a shame that it was corrupted by the touch of the hand of anyone other than the Grand Master himself, but if they had to resort to such drastic measures, Spider Robinson was the man to do it.

I cried when I finished it, mourning yet again what I had mourned as a young teen, that I would never be able to meet Robert Anson Heinlein and tell him personally how much light and enjoyment he had brought into my life, how much I learned from his works, and how very very much I appreciated those things.

His legacy is in the pages of all of his books, his steadfast belief that there are those among us capable of the fantastic acts, discoveries, and adventures that he wrote and shared with us, along with so many other beliefs and concepts that he communicated through his novels, which strike a chord in the most skeptical of hearts.

That legacy has been added to, perhaps not as he would have done it, but in sincere tribute.

A tribute which has the added bonus of being entertaining, and laugh out loud hilarious, as well as heart wrenching and tearfully touching.

If you're an RAH fan, and haven't read Variable Star yet, I urge you to find a copy. Just don't expect it to be Heinlein's ghost, commandeering Robinson's hands to type his own imaginings. It is, instead, a heartfelt honorarium, maintaining the underlying flavor of Heinlein throughout the overtones of Robinson's own personal talent and skill.

Friday, December 7, 2007


The matriarchs of my family have always been what would be, these days, called "craft inclined."

My maternal grandmother was never without her knitting, she was always making blankets, and they were the best blankets in the whole world.

My paternal great grandmother had her quilting.

Mamaw used to do needlepoint, although she doesn't anymore.

My mom taught me to crochet when I was little. I remember, I'd been watching her mom knit for years, and I wanted to learn that. Farmmom, quite wisely, decided that it would probably be a bad idea to give me sharp knitting needles, and showed me crochet instead.

I've decided that over the break I'll be attempting to quit smoking yet again. The plan is to lock myself in the apartment and not go out until the nic fits go away, so that I won't be tempted to cheat and buy a pack. I've started cutting back, already.

I also picked up a crochet hook and two skeins of yarn, today. I'm crocheting a throw blanket, since I've been eyeballing the ones at Wal Mart. It's also a cheap and easy way to keep my hands occupied, and if I'd thought of it when I was at the Old Homestead last, I'd have grabbed the stuff I already had there, but I didn't.

I've got about two and a half inches by sixty five inches done so far.

Wish me luck, folks, I have a feeling I'm going to need it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Men In Black Suits On Strike

We regret to inform you that Men in Black Suits has gone on strike.

Unfortunately my main characters flat out quit when they found out that I planned to have a pair of possessed pantaloons catheterize them.

They're now cowering in a corner of my psyche and won't speak to me.

I've been trying to get a therapist in to talk to them but none of them will even consider it without hazard pay since the last one wound up attempting to murder a toaster with a spork after the first session....


So, I had my Horse production final today. Test went well, it wasn't hard, and as usual there was a couple of questions that make me snicker (Including the one that, at the beginning of the test, we were told to write the answer in on the multiple choice question, because Marilyn's typist, who happened to be JJ, managed to not include the correct answer) I finished up and took it to the bottom of the lecture hall, skipped back up the stairs....

And Klutzed. I should know better than to hurry up stairs by now.

Tripped myself beautifully, and caught the exact corner of one of the stairs right on the middle of my kneecap.

The bruise developed fast enough that I've spent the last hour or so manipulating both kneecaps.

It'd be just my luck to fracture the damn thing and have it be one of my major injuries that just doesn't hurt that bad.

Luckily, I don't think it's damaged beyond the bruise. It's just a really impressive bruise.

I was due for a Klutz anyway, and this isn't as bad as it could have been. Last year I fell while climbing over a set of sweeps and banged myself up bad enough I couldn't walk upright for a week. Then there was the time I whacked my head while putting together Mamaw's solid oak roll-top computer desk, and nearly knocked myself out.

Sometimes I think I should walk around in a padded suit.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Men In Black Suits Part 2

Sam Sullvan eyed his clip-on ID card with disgust. Zee had sent to personnel, via his phone, a picture of Sam, horrified expression and all, clawing at his waistband. Since the badge had been delivered Sam had been trying to convince Zee to let him get a different picture.

“Oh stop whining, you get a new ID in seven months.” Zee snapped at Sam, his lip curling at Sam’s latest complaint that the picture made his waistline look thick.

“Seven months? Why seven months? And why doesn’t this stuff stick to my hands?” Sam Followed Zee into a small room, where Zee sat down at a computer terminal and began to surf the net.

“Because that’s when your probation period is over.” Zee logged into a website and began typing information into a form, which Sam didn’t see because he was too busy trying, once again, to peel the super slacks away from his waistband. He had flatly refused to don the shirt and jacket supplied to him, and instead donned the top half of the suit that he’d worn to his interview.

Of course, he’d worn a brown houndstooth jacket with elbow patches to the interview, which didn’t exactly go with the black slacks. He thought the jacket made him look scholarly. It really made him look like a man who wanted to look scholarly.

“And,” Zee continued, “It doesn’t stick to your hands because your hands are treated against it. Remember the fluid bath?”

“I thought that was a manicure.”

Zee blinked at Sam for a few moments and shook his head before turning back to the computer.

“It was a specially compounded semi-impermeable molecular wash, to keep certain chemical compounds from adhering to your skin. Like those compounds in the fabrics. And, oddly enough, peanut butter.”

“Peanut butter?”

“Yep, slides right off like butter off a hot knife.”

Sam wondered at this for a moment, then put it aside as unimportant, as he did so many other things that confused him.

“So what now? You erasing my life?” Sam peered at the screen, but didn’t have time to make sense of anything on the screen before Zee jumped up. Sam realized that he’d leaned in over Zee’s shoulder, with his hand around Zee’s shoulder, cheek to cheek.

“Let’s get one thing straight here, and I do mean straight,” Zee began heatedly. “Agency policy frowns on romantic engagements with other agents. And I do not welcome advances from the same sex.”

What? I’m not gay, dude.” Sam was flabbergasted.

“Bull. I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, or polka dotted, as long as you don’t hit on me.” Zee had backed up and returned to his chair, and wasn’t looking at Sam at all.

“No, I’m serious, I’m not gay.”

“Fine, whatever. Just don’t blow in my ear anymore.”

Sam stiffened indignantly and walked across the room to lean against the wall and glare at Zee. Zee, meanwhile, ignored Sam’s glares and continued with… whatever it was… on the computer.

After a few minutes, Sam began shifting his weight from foot to foot. The longer he stood there, the faster he shifted his weight.

Zee looked up at Sam and narrowed his eyes.

“Are you… Are you doing the potty dance??”

“I’ve been trying to figure out how in the hell I’m going to use the bathroom in these things!”

Zee smirked at this news.

“Bathroom is down the hall on the right.”

“You aren’t going to tell me, are you?”

“Nope. Have fun.”

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Men In Black Suits

So, some of my mental meanderings, mentioned in the last post, brought me to wonder what would happen if the Men In Black were less supermen, and more average Joes given entirely too much power. Thus, is a short story born. Here's the first part. Ya'll let me know if I should continue or not.

“It’s time to put it on.”

“Huh?” Sam Sullvan had only been recruited by this “agency” about five minutes ago, and already they had him confused. They had a nice benefits package though, and he’d been bored.

“The last suit you’ll ever wear.”

“That sounds ridiculously like something out of a science fiction comedy movie. Admit it, it’s the last style of suit I’ll ever wear. And not even that. You said I get two weeks a year paid vacation, and I might want to go to a nice dinner.”

“No, it’s the last suit you’ll ever wear. It’s structure bonds to your skin on a molecular level. You’ll need to shower with a dryer sheet from now on.”

“Ha ha very funny.” By this time Sam had stepped into the slacks and was buttoning them, since the other man, who had introduced himself as Zee, had made no move to leave. Sam didn’t have much problem changing clothes in front of others anyway; he’d played football in high school, and always thought fondly of the showers in the locker room at Milton J Burbank Senior High School and Auto Repair.

“You think I’m joking? Try to take the pants off.” Zee smirked at Sam in a very disquieting manner.

Sam dropped his drawers with a flourish. Or, he tried to. Instead he broke a nail on the waistband and cursed while he inspected his manicure and wondered if Chow Ming could get him in to fix the ragged thumbnail.

After a moment, Sam realized that the slacks were still firmly attached to his hips, and he gaped at Zee in horror.

“Told you so. Now put the shirt, tie, and jacket on. Don’t put the socks on yet though, we’ll need to treat your feet before you do.” Zee pulled a small device out of his pocket and started tapping on it, hmming at intervals.

Sam, meanwhile, was picking at his pants. Literally. They felt like normal high quality suit slacks, on the outside, and his hands didn’t stick to them, but he couldn’t peel so much as a thread away from his hips.

“You have got to be kidding! I am not putting any more of this stuff on! Why in the hell would you make something like this anyway??” Sam was becoming more hysterical by the second, and Zee wasn’t helping. Instead of helping Sam take the possessed pants off, he was leaning against a locker, holding the small device up at different angles, and snorting with laughter.

“Because, we asked some of our unofficial friends for a fabric that would never wrinkle, never tear, never stain, and be wash-and-wear. Unfortunately they were a little confused on the concept of wash-and-wear, so we got this.”

“But why would you keep using it??” Sam was near to tears by this time, and he hadn’t even wondered how he was going to use the toilet yet.

“Because, those of us who started this thing are stuck with it, and it’s funny as hell watching the new guys. Feel lucky, Vee always went commando, said it was breezier.”

“Went? If he’s stuck in these things he still does.”

“Unfortunately Vee had a small psychotic break after six months with the agency. He was working a case at a strip club, and… well… it was messy.” Zee brushed his hands down his sleeves and checked his cufflinks, not looking at Sam.

“Huh? Never mind, that’s not important, I’ll figure it out later.” Sam eyed the small device which Zee had once again pulled out and begun tapping on. “So, I guess you guys have all kinds of freaky technology, considering the suits and all.”

“Pretty much.”

“So what’s that thing? Some kind of molecular de-atomizing spectral analyzer?”

Zee looked at Sam like he’d just super glued his hand to his genitalia, on purpose, and was loudly extolling the virtues of having one’s hand permanently attached to one’s “pride.”

“Nooo,” Zee said slowly, “it’s a smart phone. You know, a PDA and cell phone in one?” Zee held the device up and showed Sam the screen.

“So what was all that pointing it around at different angles before?”

“Oh, just trying to get the best picture for your ID.”


This is Why...

So many of the crazy things that float through my head don't wind up on my blog.

Last night I was laying in bed waiting for sleep, and since the neighbors were being noisy I had left the TV on in the living room for some background noise.

Something on the TV made me think of Futurama and the little critter that poops antimatter. Which made me think of that critter biting off the lobster-doc's claw, whilst lobster-doc whined about how long it would take to regenerate. (It's been a while since I've actually watched Futurama, give me a break.)

Regeneration brought me to MIB one and two, and Jeebs's amazing regrowing head. Especially the line about "Now nothing is going to taste right!"

Which brought me to wonder, what if they'd shot Jeebs in the crotch? "Aw man! It's smaller!"

And then a dog food commercial, one of the ones where they're speaking for the dog, and I wondered what the dogs would actually say if they could speak human?

The old pup at the Homestead would probably say "Get these danged cats off of me so I can nap!"

My pup would probably say "Mommy! OhmommyImissedyousomuchandlookIbroughtyoutheropecanweplaytug? OrhereI'llgettheballandwecanplayfetchbutfirstIwanttositinyourlapisthatfoodohgoodyfood!" She has the attention span of a gnat unless tug, fetch, or food is involved.

If I could just train her to put that attention on something useful, like herding cattle, it would make things a lot easier on the old homestead. Of course, seeing as how she's a pit mix, training her to nip at heels could be bad.... She's only recently learned not to pop her tennis balls, (and I do mean pop them, not gnaw a hole in them) in the front of her mouth, she'd fetch the ball, bring it back, sit down and look at me before popping it and giving it back to me.

Yes, my mind really does jump from thing to thing in ways that make sense only when they're explained. Luckily those who know me have gotten used to me saying "that reminds me" and pulling a subject out of thin air.

So, now you know.